OOL OF ART
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THE MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
'if t4*6*m* -. - 4 en f/iS'/i' '-/Led.
MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
W. H. HOWELL & COMPA.NY.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
SIR FREDERICK LEIGHTOX, I!AI;T., I'.U.A. 1
ERSKIXE NICOL, A.U.A. ... oj
SIR JOHX KVKHETT .Miu.Ais, U.A. ... 27
HAMO THORXVCROFT, A. U.A. 52
JAMES CLARKE HOOK, U.A. ... ->
U. If. MOI-GHTOX, A. U.A. ... so
KEEI.EY HALSWELLE, A. U.S.A. ... ... !)G
PROFESSOR LEGROS ... ... 104
HUBERT HERKOMER, A. U.A. ... i^o
LUKE FILDES, A. U.A. ... 141
EDWARD J. POYXTER, U.A. ... ... 152
WILLIAM HOLMAX HINT "... ... 1<;4
JEAN Louis ERNEST MEISSONIER ... ... ... 176
LOUISE JOPLING ... ... ... IN!)
WILLIAM OUILLER URCHARDSOX, U.A. ... 1!)7
WILLIAM FREDERICK YEAMES, U.A. ... 200
LEON Box x AT ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 210
EASTMAN JOHNSON .. 225
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
Initial : from tho Frieze in the Divnn of Sir P.
Leighton's House ... 1
Sir Frederick Leiglitou, P.R.A., Portrait and Auto-
graph of ... ... ... .. . . o
Sir Frederick Leighton's House :
The Studio :,
Alcove in the Smaller Studio (1
Capitals of Columns at the Entrance to the
Divan ... ... ... ... 7
A Portion of the Dining-room ... 8
The Staircase, from the Aral) Hall ... 11
Group from " The Industrial Arts of Peace " 1:2
Study of a Head 14
" Tho Music Lesson " ... ... ... ... 17
" Elijah and the Angel " 18
"An Athlete Strangling a Python" lii
Erskine Nieol, A.R.A.. Portrait and Autograph of... 21
"Unwillingly to School" i!
" Paddy's Mark " -24
" Among the Old Masters " ... ... ... 2. r >
"Interviewing the Member "... ... ... ... >!',
Sir John Everett Millais. R.A., Portrait and Auto-
graph of ... ... ... ... ... 27
"Tho Sisters" ... ;jn
"TheFlocd" ... ;53
"Awake!" ... ... ... ... ... ... :?.">
"Tho North- West Passage; or, 'It can bo done,
and England ought to do it '" ...
" Two Fair Maidens "
Sir John Everett Millais' House:
Tho Staircase 43
Tho Fountain ; the Studio 44
The Drawing-room 48
An Alcove in the Drawing-room ... ... 411
Hamo Thornycroft, A.R.A., Portrait and Auto-
graph of 52
Head of " Lot's Wife " 54
"Teucer" .' 58
"Tho Mower" 60
" Tho Sower Scattering Seed " ftJ
Mr. Hamo Tliornycroft's House :
The Pointing Studio ; tho Porch 64
The Large Studio 65
Mr. Hamo Tliornycroft's House (rnntluueJ) :-
The Dining-room; the Staircase ......
The Inner Studio ......
The Sculpture Gallery ......... ...
James Clarke Hook, R.A., Portrait and Autograph of
"Home with the Tide "
" From Under the Sea "
" Jolly as a Sand-lioy "
"Crabbers" ... ...
G. H. Boiighton, A.R.A.. Portrait and Autograph of
" Green Leaves among the Sere " ... ...
" A Dutcli Seaside Resort Discussing the New-
Arrivals" ... .
'' The Peacemaker "
" The Ilesting-place "
"Evangeline " ...
"Rose Standisli " .........
" A Field Handmaiden. Brabant " .........
Keeley Halswelle, A.R.S.A., Portrait and Auto-
graph of .........
" Tug and Timber- Barge ... ...
" Feu-land " ... ... ... ... ...
Professor Legros, Portrait and Autogrnph of ...
" Tho Poor at Meat " ...............
"The River " ..................
"The Baptism" ......... ...
Thomas Carlylo ...
"Death and the Woodcut l-r" ............
The Darwin Medal ...... ...
" A Sailor's Wife " ... ... ... ... ...
Hubert Herkomer, A.R.A., Portrait and Auto-
graph of ..................
"Eventide A Scene in a Workhouse " ......
" Life, Light, and Melody " .........
Advertisement Poster of "Tho Magazine of Art " ...
Mr. Hubert Herkouier's House :
The Studio ...............
The Drawing-room ... ... ... ...
The Studio of Mr. Herkomer, Sen .......
The Dining-rooiu ... ... ... ...
A Corner of the Drawing-room ......
Tho Print ing-nHiui ............
Luke Fildcs, A.B.A., Portrait aud Autograph of ...
s. r >
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
" Fair Quiet, and Sweet Rest " 144
"The Widower" 148
EclvvartlJ. Poynter, R. A., Portrait of 152
"Nausicaa" ... 154
" St. George and the Dragon " 155
" The Ides of March " 157
A Study of a Head 158
"The Catapult" 160
" Diaduineno " 161
William Holmau Hunt, Portrait and Autograph of 164
" The Scapegoat " 167
" Isabella and the Pot of Basil" 170
" The Discipline of Pain ... ... ... ... 173
Jeaii Louis Ernest Meissouier, Portrait and Auto-
graph of 176
"The Vedette" 177
' The Visit to the Studio ; " " lu the Guard-liouso " 180
" Polichinello " 183
" Napoleon in Russia " ... ... ... ... 184
"A Madrigal" 185
Louise Jopling, Portrait and Autograph of 189
'Five o'Clock Tea" 192
Colonel the Honourable Charles Hugh Lindsay ... 193
'" It Might Have Been '" 195
William Quiller Orchardmen, R.A., Portrait and
Autograph of 197
" The Queen of the Swords " 200
" A Social Eddy Left by the Tide " 203
William Frederick Yeames, R.A., Portrait and
Autograph of 206
" Queen Elizabeth receiving the French Ambassa-
dors after the News of the Massacre of St.
" ' Here we go round the mulberry-bush "' ... ... 210
" ' And when did you last see your father ? ' " ... 213
' Amy Bobsart " ... ... ... ... ... 214
" La Bigolanto " ... ... ... ... ... 215
Leon Bonnat, Portrait and Autograph of ... ... 216
' The Crucifixion " 216
" Bibera at Rome " 217
" The Turkish Barber " 220
Portrait of Leon Cogniet ... ... ... ... 221
" St. Vincent de Paul taking the Place of a Convict " 223
Eastman Johnson, Portrait and Autograph of ... 225
"Cranberry-Picking"... ... ... ... ... 227
"The Reprimand" 230
" Sunday Morning" ... 231
LIST OF PLATES.
" THE HEIR PRESUMPTIVE "
" LES DEMOISELLES DU Mois DE MARIE "
" TOUCHED "
" THE SIGN-PAINTER "
" THE FARMER'S DAUGHTER "
Erskiue Nicol, A.R.A.
Sir J. E. Millais, R.A. ..
G. H. Bough ton, A.R.A. ..
Alphonse Legros ...
Hubert Herkomer, A.R.A.
J. L. E. Meissonier
W. Q. Orchardson, R.A. ..
... To face 27
MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
SIR FREDERICK LEmiTTON, BART., P.R.A.
FHOM TUB F1UE/.K IS THE DIVAN OF
HIK F. LEIGHTON'S HOUSE.
Y dear sir, you have no choice. Nature has done it
for you. Your son may be as eminent as lie pleases."
The words were spoken by Hiram Powers, and they
were the final answer of artistic authority to a
father anxious as to the future of a son. Happily,
in the case of the young Frederick Leighton, the
opinion given so decisively was as frankly accepted,
although it can hardly be supposed that even Hiram
Powers, judging from the sketches shown to him
in Florence in 18 to, foresaw in the boy the future author of the " Ariadno," of
"Dante in Exile," of the "Athlete," and the artist found worthiest to occupy
the chair of Sir Joshua Reynolds in an Academy which included a Watts and a
Millais among its members.
The visit to the American sculptor was not a whim or an impulse ; for the
young artist had already been at work for several years. A member of the family
possesses to this day a wonderful dog drawn by the child at six ; and, when lie was
ten years old, recovery from a long and severe illness persuaded him that he had
been saved to become a great painter. At the age of eleven he was studying in
Borne under Francesco Meli ; then came a spell at the Berlin Academy ; then that
momentous visit to Florence, which decided his career; and, immediately afterwards,
a study at the Academy of the city of Michael Angelo, of Dante, of Savonarola.
Still keeping the love of Florence in his heart, the boy at sixteen went to Frankfort-
on-the-Maine ; and he chose at Brussels, in 1848, for the subject of his first picture,
Cimabue finding Giotto drawing while he kept his sheep. After a winter at Brussels,
he added a French course to his Italian, German, and Belgian studies, by working
2 THE MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
in the Louvre life-school, copying in the galleries at the same time. Returning to
Frankfort, he studied, until 1853, under Professor Steinle, who preached to his
pupil the avoidance of mannerism, and developed his natural horror of vulgarity, as
(From a Portrait by G, F, Watts, R.A.)
well as his love of a fine distinction. At last, at about the age of one-and-twenty,
the patient student was found ripe for painting in Rome. There he worked for
some three years, and there, at the age of twenty-four, he produced the picture
SIR FREDERICK LEIGHTON, BART., P.R.A. 3
which established him suddenly but surely in England as a famous man. This
was the " Procession of Cimabue's Madonna," Mr. Leighton's first Academy picture.
The name of the young Continental student was not known here, and his work was
an almost unparalleled surprise. The exquisite serenity of the treatment at a time
in which art was tawdry when it was decorative; the chaste and cool colour at a
period when garish hues prevailed ; the lofty sense of beauty in a day of prettiness ;
in a word, the inspiration of mediaeval Florence shining upon Trafalgar Square
the thing was altogether unexpected, as new in its style as in its merits. In spite
of the admiration excited, and of the fact that the picture of the year was bought
by the Queen, the young painter fled from the scene of his brilliant <l'but, and, duriii"
a residence of some years in Paris, gained from study and practice an increase in
technical skill, and from Ary Scheffcr an addition of sentiment.
From 1858 onwards there lias not been a single exhibition at the Royal
Academy unenriched by the prolific brush of its Associate in 1K(51, its Member in
18(59, its President since 1878. Glancing along the list of all these pictures, wo
naturally divide them into the emotional and the decorative ; if there is always
power in the latter and beauty in the former, the two classes are none the less
distinct. Perhaps, in the mind of the casual stroller through the galleries, the
name of Sir Frederick Lcighton is chieily associated with the loveliest work employed
on the lightest and slightest of objects, in which Learning wears her gayest and
most graceful aspects. The famous " Odalisque" the picture of a languid Eastern
lady surrounded by white-and-gold and peacock-blue by which the young artist
may be considered to have begun his more distinctive culture of the beautiful, lias
been followed by a long succession of female studies, Eastern, Italian, and Oriental,
in which extreme refinement of colour, elegance of form, and all the smoothness of
a singularly complete method of execution have combined to produce a beauty more
than human. The " Venus," the exquisite group of " Helen on the Ramparts of
Troy," the " Pastoral," the " Music Lesson," are only a few of a series which enchants,
and which represents what might be, rather than what is ; for, since the Greeks
by their religious culture of beauty, by their "natural selection," their exercises,
and their unguents, developed forms as perfect and skins as lucid as these, the
modern world distracted by cares and abstracted by religion- has produced no
bodies so ideal in delicacy and grace. This mood of the painter the one, as wo
have said, in which he is most easily recognised by the out-of-studio world has
found its fullest expression in such works as the " Venus" a serious and memorable
study of the nude; the "Helen" Homeric in its dignity; "Golden Hours" a
dreain of perfect felicity; and the " Daphnephoria " - a work of gay yet heroic
movement. Among the productions of this same mood, though executed in another
medium, may be most correctly classed the cartoons at the South Kensington
Museum, one of which, " The Arts of Peace," is the subject of an engraving.
But however much the loveliness of the President's youths and maidens pleases
us, we admire still more the strength and manliness he has discovered to us iu
4 THE MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
another, and his uoblest, mood. The grand picture of David looking over Jerusalem
by evening, and exclaiming for the wings of one of those doves whose flight he
watches against the darkening sky ; the " St. Jerome," kneeling in the desert, with
his intense face ; the tremendous " Clytemnestra," watching from the walls of Argos
the fires which announce the return of the doomed Agamemnon ; the " Dante in
Exile;" and the "Elijah and the Angel " which we engrave these and many
other of the President's more serious compositions will be recalled when we consider
this phase of his faculty. Nor must we overlook another and a different mood of
strength of strength, yet still of elegance the niood which produced the group of
sculpture, "Athlete Strangling a Python," exhibited in the Academy of 1877, and
purchased by the Chautrey Fund ; also the " Sluggard " of a few years later, with
its beautiful forms relaxed and in tension. Powerful in feeling and form, learned in
anatomy, both where that anatomy is expressed and where it is implied, and
original in design, these noble works seem to embody something of the Greek
instinct, and can bear to be brought into comparison with even the masterpieces
There is hardly one among Sir Frederick Leighton's compositions which does
not convince us that it is seriously thought out. Explained by the painter himself,
the pictures are full of earnest intention, artistic and human. We are made aware
of the liberal enlargement of the mind by which a painter of remote men and
manners must make himself a part of all that he would show us. It is not enough
to paint the past by a kind of retrospective study ; there must also be a looking
at the world in the manner of the past, ignoring the things that followed, and
knowing familiarly the things that were. Sir Frederick Leighton, in painting his
" Phryne," for instance, intended to render the subject with nothing of the somewhat
trivial feeling with which the undraped figure is often treated in modern art. He
presented Phryne as a Greek would see her a Greek of a world to which the great
ascetic religions, and the rebellions against them, were equally unknown. To this
Greek the beautiful woman was a revelation of the high gods, and the contemplation
of her beauty a reverential act. Sir Frederick Leighton painted the figure, therefore,
with insistence upon its merely sensuous loveliness, and yet with gravity of feeling.
Something of the same intention inspired the " Cymon and Iphigenia," which
followed a year or two later. In this beautiful composition, however, the painter
presents the idea with mediaeval modifications. Here the woman is not a Phiyne,
but a high-born and innocent lady, and the man's admiration is not a sufficient
and complete act in itself; it leads him to educate himself and mend his manners.
Here we have the conception of a Boccaccio a mind aware of the Christian faith
and ethics. This last-named picture is one of the most important of its painter's
recent works. It is " thought out " in every passage. The scene is Cyprus an
island of fancies to the Italian, a vague place on the way to the fabulous East, where
ladies may make their couch under the trees at night. Iphigenia lies under the
glimpses of the rising moon, and the summer night is full of the late daylight. The
THE MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
spectator faces the east, and the western light falls on the figures and the delicate
colours of their draperies. The rustic Cymon, crossing the fields after his day's
labour, pauses to receive his first deep mental expression. In his dark face is a
kind of tender reflection of the beauty before him. Sir Frederick Leighton has
given him a gentle physique and a natural dignity, so that no thought of coarseness
should be associated with the character, but that we might rather understand a
nature uncultured, indeed, but ready for the purest and most graceful influences.
There is yet another step forward in ethical feeling in the " Wedded." Here
the painter has presented perfect human happiness under sanction and benediction.
The group of husband and wife arc twined together in a caress which is sacred
rather than secret. To give the impression of seclusion without concealment the
painter has placed them under the open sky, with shore and sea in the prospect
at their feet, but surrounded by their castle walls. It is this "thinking out"
escaping careless observers, perhaps which gives to all Sir Frederick's more serious
pictures a true intellectual
value. Pictorially, "Wedded"
is remarkable for its colour,
comprising strong but
refined tones of purple
and orange, as well as
for the manner ni
which the two heavily-
draped figures com-
bine. The charmingly
frank and tender action
of the hands expresses
the bond of marriage ;
and the whole sen-
timent is delicately
different from that
of another group of
two -- that
in the pic-
ALCOVE IN SMALLER STUDIO, Sill P. LEIGHTON's HOUSB.
SIR FREDERICK LEIGUTON, BART., P.R.A.
CAPITALS OF COH'MXS AT THE KXTKAXCE To THE 1I1VAN.
in the title. Yet another phase
of affectiouateness is presented in
the " Sister's Kiss," also a group
of two. A charming child, with
her hair gathered up in the way
which it is to he wished English-
women practised on their little
ones, stands on a wall and clasps
the neck of a girl. The young
woman leans on her hands with
her back to the wall, and turns
her head up for the kiss. The
action and expression are alto-
gether those of a sister rather
than of a mother. This delight
in the many variations of human
affection is distinctly character-
istic of a painter perhaps gene-
rally regarded as devoted to tho
culture of unemotional beauty.
Among the other pictures of action the public should not
paratively small " Elisha and the Son of the Shunamite," one
infrequent essays in Scriptural illustration. In the figure of the boy the
and sweetness of innocent deatli are finely and purely rendered. As to the prophet,
the type is studied with care and research, the expression is strong and strenuous, but
the action has presented rare difficulties. The painter has evidently found some
impossibility in transferring to canvas the curiously beautiful Biblical description of
eyes laid upon eyes, hands upon hands. Composition is a stubborn thing, and will not
always conform to description. The artist has placed the old man simply crouching,
with his gaze intent upon the boy's white face, one hand under the child's head,
the other on his hreast. Another subject of action, but not of emotion, is tho
"Eastern Slinger Scaring Birds in tho Harvest-time." This singularly beautiful
composition shows a cloudless pale sky full of the grey of dusk. A great harvest
moon is just rising. Above the tops of a field of wheat is a platform, and on this
stands the almost nude figure of an Egyptian, with vigorously upraised arm, slinging
a stone. In the distance, another platform rises, with the draped figure of a woman
against the moon. She has just cast a stone, and her arms are fallen. The singularly
poetic beauty of this scene is conveyed very subtly in tho actions, the atmosphere,
the rendering of time and climate. It is poetry without an atom of cheap or ready-
made sentiment, for nothing is attributed to the figure or the scene except its own
inexplicable pathos and dignity of effect.
Of the more purely decorative works, the '' Daphnephoria," already alluded
forget the com-
<if the painter's
8 THE MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
to, is eminently the chief. It is decoration with heroic feeling in it. The lucid
blue and white of the largely-treated sky, the grand drawing of the pine-stems,
are conceived in perfect harmony with the young and beautiful human beings. The
procession is part of the festival which took place once in nine years at Thebes in
honour of Apollo. The young people and children of the city are bringing offerings
to the god ; they come singing to the hill-top, the youths carrying the trophies
A PORTION OP THE DIXING-ROOH.
and gifts. In front, next to the leader, goes the laurel-bearer himself, chosen for
his beauty, his strength, and his skill; he has the dignity of great stature and
serene beauty. Preceding him is carried a stem of olive-wood, decorated with
globes of brass as symbols of the sun, moon, and stars ; behind him is borne aloft
a suit of armour dedicated to the god. Then come the musicians and the elder
maidens. The city of Thebes, emptied of its fairest "this pious morn," is seen
below. This picture is seventeen feet long. Another piece of largely-conceived
decoration is the "Idyll" -simply and purely a picture of beauty. A great
landscape of mixed meadow and water, overcast by large cloud-shadows in their
passage, spreads out into the distance. On a foreground hill, under the shade of a
SIR FREDERICK LEIGHTON, BART., P.R.A. Q
low-branched tree, lie two young Greek women, with their noble limbs spread upon
draperies of brilliant and subtle blues, purples, and orange-yellows. The two figures
of the women are combined in the way dear to Sir Frederick Leighton a way which
exacts all his skill line composing with line so that there are no breaks or holes
or repetitions. " Raphael never had any holes ! " exclaims Sir Frederick, revealing
in what school he studies those mechanical difficulties of composition which so few
even of the great masters have altogether conquered. The two faces are very
beautiful in feature and finish, the bodies grandly modelled. To the left, with his
back turned, is a piper piping. To the same class, too, belongs " Winding the
Skein," which has a beautiful sky and a distance of yEgean sea and island mountain-
outlines. On a terrace are two figures a woman seated and a little girl standing.
The motions of winding the thread bring the arms into graceful action. The young
woman has herculean shoulders which look fit for rougher work ; her pone, with
the head on one side and the broad figure bent, is very graceful. The child has
all the peculiar charm of Sir Frederick's tender and simple little girls. For another
such subject and a yet far more beautiful one our memory goes back several
years to the " Cleoboulos Instructing Cleobouline," in which the sage is grouped
with, perhaps, the sweetest little child ever painted.
The child-pictures, however, form a class among Sir Frederick Leightou's works ;
and in that pleasant gallery we may name " Study," in which a little maiden bends
her charming figure over a book a young figure with all the touching expression
of the child's age. Nothing could be further from sentimentality than this kind of
human pathos. In the " Light of the Harem " the most beautiful figure is that of a
little girl, draped from head to foot in straight draperies, and holding the mirror
by which the odalisque binds her tresses ; a group repeated, with variations, in the
" Arts of Peace." Then there is the picture which Sir Frederick Leighton con-
/tributed to an exhibition of pictures of children by English artists, held a few years
ago at the Fine Art Society's galleries. " Yasmeeneh," as he called his little maiden,
had a singularly pure face, the fair flesh-tints making pale harmonies with light
eyelashes and soft straight hair, in the painting of which the artist has outdone
himself; so soft are the masses, in a rather full light, that the individual hairs
seem to be represented, and yet with little detail. The child lias one deep purple
flower and a bunch of peacock feathers ; her dress is exquisitely simple. In this
respect Sir Frederick shows fine taste, for he never presents children clad in mundane
attire, unless, indeed, the exigencies of portraiture demand it. Another study of
childhood was " Biondina," a little creature with flaxen hair, and wearing a blue
bodice. But there have been few Academies without a Leighton child.
In portrait we have, most conspicuously, the fine profile of Sir Richard Burton,
and the autograph portrait which Sir Frederick Leighton contributed to the collection
at the Uffizi, Florence. In the first, the rugged subject has inspired a vigorous
manner of treatment, in which the usually smooth painter uses impasto freely.
The head is almost in profile, with the famous traveller's principal scars in viow.
10 THE MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
and the eyes lifted with the steady, melancholy expression of a lion or an eagle,
or other far-ranging creature. In his own portrait Sir Frederick has presented
himself in his red rohe ; and here, too, there is a free and masculine execution.
Another fine portrait is that of Professor Costa, the Italian painter of landscape,
with classical line and feeling. Portraits of men from the President's brush are,
however, rare ; and there will he more remembrances of the presentments of ladies.
Among these is the portrait of Lady Brownlow, a gracious figure in white, loaded
with draperies and holding an armful of crimson roses. The whole aspect is feminine
and stately, and the candour of effect is helped by the character of the sky. Sir
Frederick has taken a portrait-painter's liberties with the horizon, which should
be almost on a level with Lady Brownlow's eyes, but which retires to her feet in
order to leave the figure in a place of dominance. Sir Frederick's predecessor in
office, Sir Joshua lleynolds, had no scruples about this device ; nevertheless, to
an eye accustomed to look for the horizon in the right place, the effect of these
arbitrary horizons is that of a world of four dimensions. Another portrait fresh in
remembrance is that of Lady Sibyl Primrose, the little daughter of Lord Eosebery ;
another, that of Mrs. Hichens, a graceful picture in which a modern dress, unmodified
and unidealised, is shown to be capable of artistic treatment ; and another, the
very beautiful portrait of Mrs. Gordon, seated lengthwise a pictiire which is a
mass of red and a marvel of delicacy. But, besides the portraits, there is a whole
gallery of quasi-portraits dark Italian heads with draperies of dull but rich green,
translucent blondes in soft ruddy violet, English girls with large hats crowning their
fair hair, young Greeks with dull black tresses and starry eyes every type invested
with the painter's own delicacy and distinction.
Sir Frederick Leighton has executed several works in wall-painting, besides the
lunettes at South Kensington. Among these are the two designs, "Music" and
" The Dance," in which these arts are presented in their various influences by means
of inventively graceful figures. And one of the chief works of the President's
career is the mosaic in St. Paul's. This noble and solemn design on the prophecy,
" The Sea shall give up her Dead," has a central group of an angel taking his flight
with two scarcely reanimated figures drooping in his arms, while on either side the
Dead are arising in their cerements.
We have said something of the " thinking-out " which Sir Frederick Leighton
gives to his subjects as subjects. The care and preparation bestowed upon the
"working-out" are no less thorough. His composition may be said to be built up.
It is solid construction, not surface effect. His method is to finish his picture, as
far as regards form, in the cartoon. This is a sepia drawing on brown paper, made
of the full size of the picture. All the arrangement is made for this cartoon,
whence, when it is completed, the design is traced on the canvas. For it the
action of each figure is carefully considered and reconsidered, preliminary studies
from the model being made in alternative positions. Thus, before the finishing of
the cartoon, all the hard work of collocation was to be done and completed. With
SIR FREDERICK LEIGHTON, BART., /'. II. A.
regard to the action of the figures, he first forms his intention, then sketches it, and
then gets the model to take the pose or the movement for a very rapid drawing
from the life. If the model is intelligent, this first quick drawing may be decisive
and invaluable ;
painter is obliged
to give himself
the attitude or
movement in a
there follow the
studies from the
nude, the sepa-
rate studies of
parts, the studies
of drapery, and
the final com-
these are done
before the can-
vas is touched.
from the nude
are made in
whole and in
detail. It fre-
that a limb or
reqiures a pause
and not drawing
only but sculp-
ture is resorted
to, so that the
may be sure that
not only the bine
but the very " AIBCA "' FRO " TI1B A
SIR FREDERICK LEIGHTON, BART., P.R.A. 13
construction of the body. Among the most interesting tokens of work in Sir
Frederick Leighton's studio are these careful and beautiful little models in clay.
Some of them arc clad with real drapery, to aid in the next process. The studies
of drapery in mass and detail are, however, made at great length from the model
and the lay figure.
The little clay figures, which may be moved about, do good service in the
setting of the composition, but after this their use is over. And when the com-
binations of actions and attitudes are fully decided, the whole composition is fixed
in full and elaborate outlines. "Where there is a landscape, preliminary studies are
made for distance, sky, tree, or foreground. And some of the President's most
charming sketches are in landscape impressions of light, outline, and colour, by
which he has made record of his travel in the Kast.
The studio in which many of these beautiful works have been executed, and
from which the world hopes that many more will come, is in Kensington. A small
space by Holland Park comprises two roads, Holland Park lload and Melbury
lioad, and here, in the literary atmosphere of the home of the Foxes, and over-
shadowed by the elms of their park, have sprung up the red houses of some doxen
artists. Sir Frederick Leighton's home dates from a time before the revival ol'
the prevailing taste from a time when orchards and lanes extended over the
country from the High Street to the Boltons, and when larks could be heard in
full song over nondescript grassy intervals which are now populous. With Mr.
Watts and Mr. Prinsep for his only painter-neighbours, the Mr. Leighton of those
days enjoyed a seclusion which Mr. Norman Shaw and Mr. 13 urges invaded only
to adorn, but which the ambitious builder who followed them has unfortunately
outraged in a manner that is irreparable.
Sir Frederick Leighton's house is a substantial modern building a house of
'generous and easy yet unpretentious si/.e, not intended to cause astonishment by
its proportions and style. A long garden, one walk of which is overshadowed by
an Italian j)eryola, lies behind ; in front a long gate of carved wood opens upon
the short flight of steps. The front door gives access to an entrance-hall of dark
colour, hung, like almost every other room in the house, with pictures, and this
in turn leads to the beautiful central apartment, open to the skylight above, and
containing the picture-hung staircase, while the "divan" and its anteroom to
which we shall shortly return open from it in another direction. Library, dining-
room, and drawing-room lead out by doors in different directions ; the studios arc
above. So much indication of the general plan of the house is necessary before
we tiy to make our readers feel in detail the chief beauties of this charming place,
its lucidity and its colour, and indicate a few of the more important pictures and
studies on its walls.
To stand, then, in the entrance-hall. It is appropriately simple, walls of a
cafe au lait colour and a brown parquet giving it a quiet harmony of warm tones.
Monochrome studies are here. A beautiful, careful drawing of the " Foutaua delle
THE MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
Tartarughe " at Eome (the design of which is attributed to Eaphael) has particular
value in Sir Frederick Leighton's eyes, insomuch as it is the work of his old master,
Steinle. An engraving of Ingres' "Harem" one of that painter's famous studies
of the figure, some sketches for which are iu Sir Frederick Leighton's library hangs
near the door, and further on are several noble single figures from the designs of
Jean Goujon, the ill-fated sculptor murdered in the St. Bartholomew massacre.
Nor does a grand old Doge-picture undoubtedly Venetian, but anonymous, being
STUDY OF A HEAD.
what is called in Italy a quadro di scuoln do much to break the rule of black-and-
white. Next to this anteroom is the central hall, an apartment, like all in the
house except the studio, of moderate size. The floor is very dark and polished,
with a centre of Italian mosaic, upon which stands a great brass pot, filled in summer
with a shrub in flower. One wall is lustrous with the rich blue of old Cairene
tiles, which line it entirely ; in the lowest angle of the staircase the front of an
inlaid Persian cabinet forms a little balcony upon which stands a peacock, some
of whose loveliest tints are matched by the Persian and Ehodian ware with which
the house shines ; inside the little balcony are cushions of olive-amber satin with
embroideries. The open staircase is hung with pictures, one wall being covered
with a copy of Michael Angelo's cartoon of "Adam." An unfinished picture by
Sir Joshua Eeynolds is one of his successor's most interesting possessions. It is a
SIR FREDERICK LEIQHTON, BART., I'.ll.A. 15
portrait group of Rockingham and Burke, the latter sitting as secretary at his
leader's side, holding a peri, while Lord Rockiugham is placed in that famous
"sitter's chair" which the present President bought and presented to the Royal
Academy in memory of its father. Below this suggestive canvas are some smaller
works : a study by Sir Joshua ; a sketch of the Venetian school blots of line
colour; a small "Resurrection," also Venetian, the work of some minor painter,
but full of a certain quality which modern art can scarcely compass; and a head
from the pencil of Tintoretto.
Then follow a noble and graceful portrait of the President by Mr. XVatts, in
which the sitter is full-face, leaning on his hand, and Sir Frederick Lcighton's
masterly portrait of the scarred and rugged profile of Captain Burton. A few steps
further up, and we can see one of the beautiful early works of Mr. Edgar Barclay ;
a landscape by Signor Costa; a scene of peasant piety by M. Legros such as he
used to paint so frequently in years gone by women in white caps on their knees;
and a woman and child in the open air, by Mr. Armstrong. At the head of the
stairs is an early design of the great plague of Florence, by Sir Frederick himself,
done at the age of twenty or twenty-one. Two tiny sketches rather pencil-notes than
drawings by Wilkio and John Leech, that of the latter the first idea for a J'uncli
design, detain us for a moment as we pass into the smaller studio, which is a kind
of anteroom to the great atelier, and is lighted from above and furnished with an
ingenious arrangement of blinds, so that models may lie studied there for certain
effects. This apartment has tawny-brown walls; the further end contains an alcove
raised by three steps, the end of which is formed by a screen of Oriental wooden
trellis-work coloured black and fitted with four little windows looking into that
lovely divan, or Arab Hall, which is the glory of Sir Frederick Leighton's home.
Our illustration is a drawing of the little studio, looking towards the alcove. A
/rare Persian pot fills a niche in the screen, while Persian tiles (none of more
recent and many of much older date than the seventeenth century) line the roof
and sides of the recess. Of these tiles the house contains an unparalleled collec-
tion, made by their possessor in the course of many years. In this scheme of
decoration, blue is the reigning colour, but nothing like the blue of " blue-and-
white " china. The colour of the tiles inclines to purple at times, and to green
at others, and the white of the ground is very subtly tinted, but the magnificence
of the tints is enhanced by the lustre of the material, some of the tiles producing
an effect between marble and velvet more lucid than the one and deeper than
A door communicates with the great studio. A tall window running up into
the roof, large easels at one end with their load of pictures, walls covered with
studies, a screen or two with rare and lovely Oriental draperies thrown over them,
and a quantity of splendid potteiy at the unoccupied end of the room these are
the objects that first meet the eye. An incident of the studio, which our drawing
reproduces, is interesting as giving that drawing a date : Near the window stands
16 THE MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
a group sketched in clay, a lovely composition of two female figures reposing, one
lying pillowed across the breast of the other, both being clad in real draperies, of
which the folds are the study of days. On the canvas near is the beginning of that
noble picture "An Idyll" from which Signor Amendola made this clay group, and
from this in turn the picture will be finished. One of the most peaceful and joyous
of all the painter's compositions, this is also one of his grandest. It is invested
with a serene and heroic simplicity, and with the natural grandeur of the golden
age ; a shepherd sits piping ; the two nymphs are half asleep ; a great landscape
stretches in front.
The walls of Sir Frederick's studio are thickly hung with studies landscape
scraps, and bits of architectural accessories, which are the fruits of many a summer
and autumn ramble : studies of light in the East, studies of colour of Sicily, studies
of rocks in the desert, of seas in the south and of skies in the north, one little panel
flickering with the blue of an Italian summer, another green with the summer of
England, and each of them, however slight, touched with the completeness of truth
and with a great charm of workmanship.
If the studio is interesting as containing the genius loci, the divan is, as we
have said, a treasury of research and taste. A small Oriental hall, red brick
externally, and forming a little wing to the house, it rises up under a mosque-like
dome. The internal plan of this hall is like that of La Ziza at Palermo a
square with deep recesses on the three sides, and a wide entrance from the corridor,
with lintels supported by four massive columns. Each recess is vaulted, and
in the angle of the wall are slender columns supporting the archivolt. Over these
runs a frieze, while niches and icicle-work bring the square into an octagon, from
which rises the dome, with its eight arched windows, these windows being filled
with the pierced plaster sashes of Cairo and coloured Oriental glass. The floor is
a marble mosaic of black and white. There is a deep skirting of black marble, the
walls above it being entirely covered with Persian tiles as far up as the gold frieze
which runs round the hall. Above are horizontal bands of black and white, into
which the black marble archivolts of the recesses rise to the soffit of the cornice.
An Arab frieze of scroll-work on a dark-blue ground forms the cornice to the dome,
while the dome itself is of gold. Two large windows of clear glass fill the right
and left recesses, covered with gilded wooden trellises from Cairo. The slender
marble columns supporting the arches of the recess are of an exquisite warm white,
resembling the tint of antique statues. A panel of the divan illustrates very
amusingly the ingenuity which religionists of all ages have exhibited in evading
the more hampering requirements of their creeds. It is well known that Moham-
medanism, as professed by the larger part of its adherents, prohibits the repre-
sentation in art of any living creature, brute or human. Some long dead and gone
Moslem, who owned a stately pleasure-dome like this of Sir Frederick Leighton's.
who had cultivated tastes and was a patron of the arts, hit upon the ingenious device
of having a line drawn through the necks of every beast and bird in a beautiful
SIR FREDERICK LEIGI1TON, BART., P.U.A.
decorative composition which covers a large panel of tiles ; the design is thus pre-
served, but the throats of the creatures are cut, and the conscience of the Moslem
is inviolate. Among these exquisite tiles, by the way, the connoisseur recognises
distinctive qualities in the Ehodian, spots of a strong deep red ; in the Persian,
the colour of a purple grape. As may easily be understood, the task of adapting
several pieces to the walls without breaking the design, after the chances and hazards
of collection and transportation, was not easy to Mr. George Aitchison, A.R.A.,
TI1S tlt'BIC LBOS.
THE MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
to whose designs the whole house, with the divan, is due, and of whose talent it
forms a brilliant memorial. Often a tile necessary to the continuity of the pattern
was wanted, and there was then nothing for it but to call in modern Occidental
ELIJAH AND THE ANGEL.
skill. This has been supplied by Mr. William de Morgan (son of the late famous
mathematician), whose labours and successes in the arts of pottery and porcelain are
well known, and who has produced imitations of the Cairene tiles which for lustre
and colour are scarcely to be distinguished from the originals. A marble fountain
basin, with its central jet, occupies the centre of the mosaic floor.
The hundred d.etails of the decoration of this radiant hall it is, of course,
i FREDERICK LEIGHTON, BART., 1>M.A.
impossible to enumerate; but a word must be devoted to its anteroom, which opens,
as we have said, out of the central hall. This apartment has, like the divan, a
mosaic floor and tiled walls, the latter being in this case uniform in their colour,
which is a dark transparent blue-green. The flat ceiling is gilded, and in the
middle stands, on a pedestal, an excellent cast in green bronze of the beautiful
"Narcissus" in the museum
at Naples. Our illustration is
taken from the south window,
looking obliquely through the
divan and the anteroom into
the central hall.
The greatest treasure of
the drawing-room is, perhaps,
a small and very beautiful
Constable to which no ordi-
nary interest attaches. Every
one knows that Constable was
the founder of the great
modern French school of
landscape -- which has its
source, not in Caspar Poussin
and the decadence, but in
Gainsborough and the Eng-
lish revival ; and here is the
very picture which, exhibited
in Paris under Charles X.,
and rewarded with a gold
medal, so wrought upon the
taste and temper of the schools
of France that it proved to be
the little grain of mustard-
seed which has developed into
so magnificent a growth of
art. Sir Frederick Leighton has hung below this historic and precious little
picture one that may be considered its noblest oiitcome a fine work by Daubigny;
while close by is a Corot one of the loveliest in England, which is another result
of the evolution of Constable's influence. Also from the hand of Corot are four
large upright studies, brushed rapidly by the master in Decamps' studio. They
have not, therefore, the same kind of value as his outdoor work, but they are full
of beauty and truth. A David Cox in the same room is rivalled in interest by one
of Mason's pastorals, the first English picture he ever painted the first, that is, of
those lovely works which have given laws to a little school.
A-\ ATHLETE STUANOLISO A I'VTIIOX.
20 THE MODERN SCHOOL OF AET.
The President's home is all the more delightful for forming so complete a
contrast to the majority of artists' homes. It is notorious that the reaction from the
violent colour from which the world had long suffered has resulted in a general
renunciation of strong colour. Nothing could be too quiet and too reserved to
please eyes which shrank from the cold crudities and the sickly brightness of the
" emerald " greens and Prussian blues, the pinks and greys (both adulterated with
violet), the chocolates, and slates, and magentas, of so many years. Subdued and
beautiful tertiary tints, rather dark than light, became the taste and then the fashion,
so that the value and charm of radiant and powerful colour seemed in danger of
being forgotten, and background tints bade fair to take too prominent a place.
Many artists' houses, therefore, with which we are familiar, are, except for touches of
brilliance from the East in their accidental ornaments, almost limited to a negative
beauty of tint, whereas the house in Holland Park Eoad is all alive witli colour
and gold. And the contrast is not one of colour only, but of material. English
habits and English tastes have always inclined to the use of homely rather than
stately materials. The most beautiful houses in the country are built with brick
rather than with stone, and the most beautiful rooms are mounted with wood, not
marble, paved with oak, not mosaic, lined with paper, carpeted and draped with
stuffs which are soft, pliable, and sheltering. Nor is this national tendency altogether
the result of climate, for it is cold enough in Italy every winter for the enjoyment
of small rooms, and warm enough in England every summer for the luxury of
marble and fountains. The divan is, then, a complete change from wood to gold,
from the effects of dusk to those of day. By this change is gained the important
element of reflections. Beautiful English house-decoration is almost always opaque
in surface and dull, whereas Sir Frederick Leighton has by means of his translucent
surfaces reproduced something of that secret charm of Italy and the East reflected
light. Nothing so strikingly proves the peculiar quality of Oriental colouring as
the curious shallowness and insipidity of the Occidental world as it meets the eye
which is fresh from this house in Holland Park Eoad. After it, the prettiest things
in the shops and the houses (and both in these improved days contain things which
are really pretty) lack light and depth. But the greatest charm of Sir Frederick
Leighton's house lies in this that it is the abode, not merely of taste, and the
taste of the time, but of a kindness and courtesy which will never be out of
date or fashion.
The year 1885 saw honours bestowed upon several English artists, the official
chief of whom, Sir Frederick Leighton, accepted a Baronetcy in place of the Knight-
hood traditionally associated with the Presidentship of the Eoyal Academy.
(From a rhottyrttph by A. E. FraJclU.)
/ ERSKINE NICOL, A.R.A.
|HE early days of Mr. Erskine Nicol form a striking example of the over-
whelming influence which a deep-seated and sincere instinct or love for
art has on the character. The story of his youth shows how, when the
divine fire is inborn, it is impossible to quench it, and how, in spite of
every obstacle and all opposition, it is sure to assert itself in the end. Our present
subject's success illustrates in a remarkable degree the fact that the spark once
22 THE MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
kindled will maintain its glow in the face of the most chilling and damping circum-
stances, that the fire is still there in all its intensity, although it may be hidden from
the sight of the world, and that it will finally leap up into a bright burning flame
under the influence of the favourable breeze which is certain to blow sooner or later.
Erskine Nicol was born in Scotland, at Leith, in 1825, and displayed, from
childhood, a predilection and aptitude for drawing ; and he admits that he lost no
opportunity as he grew up for indulging his favourite pirrsuit, even at the sacrifice
of all other studies. Remembering that fifty years ago the career of an artist was
looked upon as one of the most precarious a young man could adopt, we are not
surprised to hear that his father did all he could to discourage his boy's enthusiasm
for the all-absorbing pursuit. When it is also remembered that the elder Nicol's
means rendered it necessary for the younger to set about earning his own living
as soon as possible, we shall find no difficulty in understanding the opposition that
was made by his parents to the lad's wishes, and in excusing a certain blindness to
the fair promise doubtless given by his earliest efforts.
He was not to be put off from his love, however ; and, as a compromise, he
was at length apprenticed to a decorative painter, only quitting this partially
congenial occupation as he gradually found means of earning something by his
pencil. A pretty just idea can be formed of the precocity of his talent, and
his general determination and independence of character, from the fact that he
managed to get admitted a student of the Trustees' Academy, Edinburgh, then
under the sway of Sir William Allan and Thomas Duncan, before he had completed
his thirteenth year.
About the age of twenty, young Erskine Nicol went to Dublin, where he
remained some four years ; and then it was that, during his rural rambles, he
formed that acquaintance with Ireland and the Irish which led him to adopt the
life and character of the country as his principal study. It was in the year 1851,
after his return to Edinburgh, that he first made an impression on the public by
exhibiting, in the Eoyal Scottish Academy, six subjects illustrative more or less of
Hibernian individuality, especially from its humorous and laughter-loving side.
Settling down in what may be called his native city, he became a constant
exhibitor, success following success at such a pace that he was soon elected
Associate, and ultimately a full member, of the august body that regulates the
destinies of art in the northern capital.
True to the instincts of his countrymen, he was not long ere he found his
way to London ; and, from the year 1863, he has seldom or never failed to be
represented upon the walls of Trafalgar Square and Burlington House, the ever-
increasing merit of his work leading, in the year 1866, to his election to an Associate-
ship in the Eoyal Academy.
Such art as Mr. Nicol's can never fail to be highly popular ; the keen incisive
observation of character which it displays will unceasingly appeal to a very large
audience, and when, as in his case, it is combined with high artistic qualities, the
ERSKINE NICOL, A.R.A.
UNWILLIXOLY TO KCHOOL.
(/ tlit I'oueuion of Mr. R. O. Cooper.)
discriminating few, equally with the less thoughtful many, are ready to render
homage. If any proof were needed, it can be found in the eagerness to possess
engravings from his pictures which is shown by the same class of collectors who,
not in a position to acquire the pictures themselves, gather together and highly
THE MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
prize the replicas in black and white of the works of such masters as Wilkie and
Webster. What these latter have done in the way of portraying the homely, familiar,
PADDY 8 MAi.K.
I'ermimon of A. S. Dixon, Esq.)
everyday side of British life, Mr. Nicol does for the Irish ; whilst in giving every
phase of humour, from the quiet, puzzled expression of the countryman "Among
the Old Masters," down to the racy fun and boisterous mirth of a Donnybrook Fair,
he is not to be excelled. As examples of widely-known works, Scotch and Irish
ERSKINE NICOL, AM. A.
in subject, we may name "Both Puzzled;" "Steady, Johnnie, Steady," "Always
Tell the Truth" an old Scotchwoman admonishing her grandson; "The Sabbath
Day " another old Scotchwoman going bravely through some exceedingly "saft"
weather, on what looks like a trudge of many miles, to kirk ; and " Looking Out
for a Safe Investment," which humorously suggests graver deliberations than those
of two little schoolboys confidentially advising on the contents of a very small
AMONG THE <ILI> MAHTEHS.
(Ry I'ermisaiun of Thoituu t'attl, K.A.)
shop-front. These are amongst the most popular of the very numerous engravings
"after Erskine Nicol."
There is no need to go much further back than 1869 in order to recall to the
reader's memory the steady progress of the artist in the estimation of the critical
public. Besides the pictures just mentioned, and those of which we are fortunate
enough to be enabled to give engravings, the following will readily be remembered
as specimens of his prowess :" Did it Pout with its Bessie? " "The Hope of the
Family," "The Renewal of Lease Refused," "Waiting for the Train," " A Depu-
tation," " Missed It," " Paying the Rint," " A Country Booking-Office," " A China
Merchant," "The Cross Roads "all notable pictures; "The Disputed Boundary,"
THE MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
exhibited in 1869; "The Fisher's Knot," in 1871; "Pro Bono Publico " and " Past
Work," in 1873; "The New Vintage," in 1875; "His Legal Adviser," in 1877
an interesting study of grirn character, which shows a litigious Irish countryman
putting his case, evidently a had one, to a hard-headed lawyer; "Under a Cloud,"
"The Missing Boat," and "The Lonely Tenant of the Glen," in 1878 the last-
named a pathetic figure of an old Scotchwoman loaded with branches for her solitary
hearth; and in 1879, "Interviewing the Member." "A Storm at Sea" (1876) was
more serious in subject than is usual with Mr. Nicol. It shows a group not
themselves storm-tossed, but watchers of the waves. An old salt scans the horizon
eagerly with his glass ; his comrade looks out with a thoughtful action of the
hand. Behind them stands an old woman, whose heart is more ominously pre-
occiipied. Among the painter's latest pictures is "A Screw Loose in the Lease"
(1885), thoroughly characteristic in matter and manner.
One can readily imagine, from the subjects which he has made his own, and
the thorough way in which he has understood and thrown himself into the spirit
and character of the Irish people, that the experiences of Mr. Nicol during his long
acquaintance with the Emerald Isle must have given him a store of anecdote,
almost unequalled, perhaps, for its peculiar fun by any that may have been laid up
by other explorers of the highways and byways of " ould Ireland." Very enviable
would it be, we take it, to hear him recount the stories and sayings of his models;
for it is clear that, making them speak to us, as he all but does, from his canvas,
he must have a peculiar faculty for drawing them out, if it were only for the
purpose of creating the especial expression which he requires at the moment.
INTERVIEWING THE MliMllhU.
(From Hit rnrlmil bii O. F. Huff.,
SIR JOHN EVERETT MILLAIS, R.A.
OHN EVERETT MILLAIS was born in 1820, in Portland Place, South-
ampton, but he came of an old Jersey stock. His earliest clear
memories, however, are of Dinan in Brittany. He still speaks with keen
delight of the picturesque old tower on the fosse, in which the family
was living; and Millais is a pregnant instance of the influence of romantic
mediaeval architecture upon the imagination of a gifted child. Mozart
composed at six ; Millais painted at the same age ; and the singular precocity of
these great masters did not indicate a power forward but not lasting. Dinan was,
of course, full of soldiers, but Milluis was evidently most strongly impressed by
28 THE MODERN SCHOOL OF APT.
the artillery. His early tentatives in art were, naturally, pictures of soldiers ;
and he tells, still with a certain sense of triumph, a little anecdote connected with
his childish drawings of the showy heroes in their splendid uniforms.
The boy's military drawings, which were altogether surprising performances for
a child of six, fell into the hands of an artillery officer, who, in his delight at the
powers of the precocious artist, showed them about to his brother officers. These
latter wholly refused to believe that such work was the production of the bright
little stranger in Dinan ; and their incredulity led to a memorable wager. This
wager was one of a dinner. The friendly officer produced his evidence, and won
his bet. Some thirty were present at the lost wager dinner ; and one of those
present the infant artist remembers vividly the pride and pleasure which thrilled
his childish bosom at this early recognition of his power in art. One more anecdote.
The scene shifts from quaint and charming old Dinan to the studio of a then
President of the Royal Academy Sir Martin Archer Shee. Art had progressed in
the meantime with the juvenile but ardent student; who had reached the ripe age
of eight or nine, and his mother brought him to the President to ask advice about
the lad's future studies and career. The awe-inspiring President was no great
painter, but a good official, and almost necessarily a fairly good judge. Speaking
without looking at the boy's drawings, he said, from his sumptuous altitude of
position, coldly, "Better make the boy a chimney-sweeper than an artist! " Fancy
the little, widely-opened ears that heard this crushing statement. However, the
great President unbent, relaxed, became human, and actually consented to inspect
the drawings. A sight of these wholly changed his tone, and he passed into warm
admiration, and bestowed kindly advice. The President expressed his opinion that
it was the duty of the friends of such a boy to give him every opportunity of
studying and pursuing art ; and this needful opportunity was sought in the art-
school of a certain Mr. Sass. To these preparatory classes Millais was sent in his
tenth year doubtless the youngest student who, in modern times, has entered
upon a technical professional education in art. His distinction became evident
from the first. He lost no time in gaining a medal that of the Society of Arts;
and when the dispenser of these honours awarded it, he looked with surprise at
the little child he was to decorate. At eleven years old he went into the Academy
schools ; at thirteen he won the medal for drawing from the antique ; at fifteen he
paused in his chalks and crayons to begin work in colour. Every academical honour
that was for students to win he gained in his brilliant school career ; and he was
but a boy of seventeen when he exhibited his " Pizarro," a young and scenic kind of
picture, showing astonishing cleverness and capability and promise, and everything
indeed except individuality, that quality almost impossible to youth. No boy, except
a singularly conceited sort of boy, has effrontery enough to be original ; and " Pizarro,"
with its next year's successor, " Elgiva," was a true and hopeful boy's picture,
painted in a school, and as much as possible like the pictures of his masters.
But the time of pupilage was short. There w r ere but two years between the
SIR JOHN EVEUKTT MILL ATS, I!. A. 29
"Elgiva" and one of the most epoch-making pictures of the English school
Millais' " Isahella." This was painted in a school, indeed, hut in a school of
scholars, all young, all ardent, moved hy one impulse, and owning no tutors except
Nature herself, and the masters who lived hetween Cimalme and Michelangiolo.
This little hand of reformers comprised at first four painters Dante Gabriel Rossetti,
William Holinan Hunt, James Collinson, and John Everett Millais ; two writers,
William Michael Rossetti and Frederic George Stephens ; and one sculptor, Thomas
Woolner. These signed their works " P.R.B.," for " Pre-Raphaelite Brother," and
many other young people, who are remembered as " very Pre-Raphaelite," but who
did not use the initials, did not properly belong to the confraternity.
But the time was hard upon it. All the fairly well-read critics had been
formed upon a "corrupt following of the Apostles " of the later Italian art. They
were in a manner outraged hy the young Pre-Raphaelitisin. It was a thing sub-
versive to their principles and their habits of judging ; and destructive of their
vocabulary. The press was exceptionally severe, and abated its rigours only with
time, and after a new voice in the national literature, the voice of John Ruskin,
had uttered itself. The thunders of censure fell most violently upon Holinan Hunt
and Millais. And it is curious to observe how differently the two artists have lived
down the ridicule and dislike which they endured in isli). The one has changed
in nothing from the principles of his xealous youth, and the world has more or
less conformed to him ; the other has replied by such " infinite variety " that he has
won his foes with one hand and kept his friends with the other. But at the
moment Millais was as uncompromising as were the staunchest of his brothers.
"Isabella," which startled men in their art and literature, he immediately capped
with " Christ in the House of His Parents " (popularly known as " The Carpenter's
Shop"), which shocked them in their art and religion.
A word as to the composition and character of these two noteworthy pictures,
which have been seen again of late in London and at Liverpool, but which are still
not much more than a tradition to many who know the " Huguenot " and the
"Black Brunswieker " hy heart. The subject of the "Isabella" was much less
familiar to' the public of the early Victorian period than it is to our Keats-loving
days. Boccaccio himself was, of course, and is, and will remain, little read, and the
young English poet's rendering of the Boccaccio story was not popular. By a
natural affinity, the young Pre-Raphaelites revived Keats, and the Italian talo suited
them. Holinan Hunt was the first who ever painted a Keats picture in his " Flight
of Madeline and Porphyro," from the "Eve of St. Agnes " which he has followed
in after-years with " Isahella and the Pot of Basil" and immediately after it came
Millais' " Isahella." This picture betrays at the first glance its determination to
be rigidly exempt from the received habits of pictorial arrangement. A long table
reaches into the background. It is spread for a meal, and bordered with guests,
and so turned that the line of diners on the spectator's right have their faces visible
in profile or quasi-profile from the first to the last. The row of diners to the left
80 THE MODERN HCHOOL OF ART.
show only three profiles and a half. All the heads are portraits, and in some cases
the names have been preserved. Dante Kossetti is at the extreme end on the right
drinking from a glass, with a protruded under lip. Mr. William Bell Scott, about
(From the Collection of C. P. Matthews, Esq.)
half-way along, wipes his mouth with a napkin. Mrs. Hodgkinson sat for the
charming figure of Isabella, and a young contemporary artist is the tyrannical
brother, whose long leg stretches across the foreground to kick Isabella's dog. The
rather ignominious figure of the serving-man is also a portrait. And it may be
noted, as a detail of the working of Pre-Eaphaelite principles, that the good-natured
friends who sat as models to the brotherhood frequently had their feelings outraged
SfR JOHN EVERETT MILLATS, R.A. 81
by the scorn and insult of the press as to their personal appearance, reproduced
with a faithfulness of resemblance only too conscientious, as they knew. This was
particularly galling, as the Pre-Raphaelites took their time, and the sittings were
long. The detail in " Isabella " is simply wonderful. Executed as it is, in the
manner of a handicraft, it is not such as any painter could pride himself upon
achieving ; and the perfection of care with which it is elaborated is a sign of the
selflessness and love of labour which the reform of art was intended to bring about.
The colour throughout is singularly strong, direct, and brilliant.
The " Carpenter's Shop " insisted still more emphatically upon the realism of
portraiture. Millais, however, took his realism with a certain wilfiilness. He did
not go to the East to paint his personages in the probabilities of place and type ;
he did as an early Italian was obliged to do in untravellcd times took his models
from among his neighbours. Millais' St. Joseph is obviously a Scotch tradesman,
his St. Mary is again his sister-in-law, Mrs. Hodgkinson, bis Christ a child from a
London nursery, his St. John a little Italian of hurdy-gurdies or plaster images.
With this there is a certain condescension to likelihood, inasmuch as St. Joseph's
legs are bare, and the young Baptist (who bears a bowl of allusive water) is girt with
camels' hair. Throughout this picture, as in " Isabella," there is an excessive ingenuity
of allegoric incident. The child Christ has a "wound in the midst of His hand,"
which has been done by chance with a nail. A flock of sheep outside are wander-
ing, lacking a shepherd. All this is surely, if we may apply Leigh Hunt's literary
canon to painting, fancy rather than imagination. But perhaps the picture offended
most in the lack of beauty in the Virgin's face. Having chosen no unlovely model,
Millais rather wilfully disfigured her by banded hair of the most " trying " arrange-
ment, covered with an ungraceful veil or shawl, and by an expression of rather dreary
suffering in the lined forehead. The figure and face are those of a distressed London
needlewoman of middle age. We should nevertheless remember that the young
painter had no intention whatever of painting a beauty or a fresh and happy woman.
The beauty liked by the world, and common on canvas, was to him an excessively
trivial and worthless thing, and the signs of labour and of privation were dear and
worthy. And whatever may be said of this most remarkable picture, the fact that
it was painted in protest against poor and vain and fatuous conventions should have
preserved it from scorn and derision. Its painter was a boy of twenty-one. This
is what the Times said of it: "Mr. Millais' principal picture is, to speak plainly,
revolting. The attempt to associate the Holy Family with the meanest details of
a carpenter's shop, with no conceivable omission of misery, of dirt, and even disease,
all finished with the same loathsome minuteness, is disgusting ; and with a surprising
power of imitation, this picture serves to show how far more imitation may fall
short, by dryness and conceit, of all dignity and truth." It is no secret that in
after-years in, say, the middle stage of his career Millais did not stand by the
" Carpenter's Shop " nay, that he would not have been inconsolable if some accident
had happened to the canvas ; but that reaction, too, has passed away, and doubtless
32 THE MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
in the calm of reconsideration the Sir John Millais of to-day is moved to give his
own respect to work which has gained and kept the respect of the whole world.
With this were exhibited a small portrait of Mr. Wyatt, of Oxford, with his
granddaughter, and "Ferdinand and Ariel." This fanciful group from Shakespeare
was almost as much disliked as the composition from the Bible. The model for
Ferdinand was Mr. Stephens, a P.R.B., and the art-critic of many years' standing.
The Ariel is a green bubble of the air, a kind of transparent goblin, surrounded by
elfs akin to himself. Perhaps this is not altogether the spiritual creature of our
Tempest. But the fact that it is the Ariel of an original young mind should go
for something. Millais' Ferdinand comes forward with his hand to his ears to catch
the enchanted music. The Times considered this picture less offensive in feeling,
but not more pardonable in style, than its companion. Nor was the' " Ferdinand "
approved by the patron for whom it had been painted. Delighted to get a com-
mission for a hundred pounds, Millais had spared no thought or pains ; but the order
was cancelled and the picture returned. The young painter was consoled, however,
by a visit from Mr. Richard Ellison, who bought "Ferdinand" for fifty pounds
more than the original price.
The pictures of 1851 were " Mariana," " The Woodman's Daughter," and " The
Return of the Dove to the Ark." The "Mariana" was an audacious experiment in
colour, and got its full measure of contumely. " The Return of the Dove " shows two
heavily-built, thick-set young girls fondling the dove as they stand together with
their feet in the straw of the floating menagerie. The colour in the girls' dresses is
singularly pure and fresh, and there is we know not what of innocence and emotion
in their action. "The Woodman's Daughter" illustrates an early poem of Mr.
Coventry Patmore's, who was a comrade, though not a brother, in the Pre-Raphaelite
movement. This poet has shown in his work, by the way, much of the same
evolution as has taken place in the art of his companions. At the outset extremely
Pre-Raphaelite in detail, he has since taken a larger manner, with an increase
rather than a loss of vital truth and sincerity. The poem here illustrated has,
with passages of extraordinary power, several stanzas of emphatic and determined
plainness. It is one of these that the picture treats of. The high-born boy and
the woodman's child meet in the wood :
" She went merely to think she helped ;
And whilst he hacked and sawed,
The rich squire's son, a young boy then.
For whole days, as if awed,
Stood by and gazed alternately
At Gerald and at Maud.
" He sometimes in a sullen tone
Would offer fruits, and she
Always received his gift with an air
So unreserved and free
That half-feigned distance soon became
34- THE MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
The verses are worth quoting as a fair specimen of the literature of Pre-Eaphaelitism
in its first youth. Millais shows Maud as a plain little girl, with an innocent face ;
the boy is giving her strawberries. And as strawberries were out of season, a sum
of a certain importance to Pre-Eaphaelites was expended in getting a basket in
Covent Garden, and after the strawberries had posed for their portraits, they were
" devoutly and thankfully " eaten by the painter and his serious young friends together.
There is a quantity of fine painting in the moss and grass and tree-stems. The
late Mr. Hodgkinsou, who possessed this picture, with a number of other important
works by his half-brother, has bequeathed it finally to the South Kensington Museum.
The year 1852 is important in the Millais annals. In the May of that year
the most popular of our modern painters exhibited a picture that won the world.
But, curiously enough, seeing that public successes are almost invariably sudden,
the " Huguenot " did not win the world at once. The picture was painted as a
commission for a hundred and fifty pounds, offered by a dealer, who in after-days,
when the engraving had found out many thousands of the humbler patrons of art,
added a modest fifty. And at first the young artist had nothing to flatter his hopes.
The press, it is true, was less derisive and indignant than it had been at the new
appearance of Prc-Eaphaelitism (and, sooth to say, the peculiarities of the school,
as presented by Millais, had begun to be perceptibly modified in the "Huguenot"),
but it was sufficiently hostile. The critics began to make an effort to meet the
painter on his own ground, and to convict him of errors in those points of fact to
which they thought the young school in its reactionary impulse attributed a rather
excessive importance. He was accused of gravely miscalculating the length of the
man's right arm, which reaches a very great way round the lady's neck, of falsity to
nature in painting nasturtiums in flower on the feast of St. Bartholomew, which is
too late for them but here the critics were flagrantly in error ; and the usual faults
were found in the matter of the lady's lack of beauty, and of the exaggerated affection
bestowed by the painter upon the bricks of the garden wall. But, in fact, the face
of the Catholic girl has far more fairness, of a round-cheeked, honest sort, than the
Pre-Eaphaelites had ever before permitted themselves in their young austerity. Her
figure it is which to modern eyes lacks grace. For Millais and his brethren aimed
rightly and artistically enough at abolishing the little waist as well as the enormous
eyes and small mouth of vapid convention ; but they were too much under the
control of contemporary dressmaking to conceive an emancipation from the waist
altogether its abolition. They adhered to a gown with a full petticoat and an
emphatic bodice, only they made that bodice as unconventional as they well could
achieve it. The result was a severe dowdiness of effect, from which a knowledge of
long-lined and shoulder-hung draperies would have relieved them. In some of their
early pictures this inelegance is far more salient than in the comparatively shapely
lady of the " Huguenot." The extreme length and uncompromising cut of the waists
usual among the Brotherhood testify to their ascetic spirit, as well as to the poverty
of invention and the evil fashions by which the early Victorian period hampered even
Sift JOIIX KVKRETT M11.LAIX. R.A.
those most indignantly in rebellion against its taste and habits. But in spito of
everything that hypercriticism could discover, the "Huguenot" was a gift to the
world, a charming picture, instinct with feeling which touched the heart of a nation,
and presenting a suspended situation of emotion and love, in which rests a strong
With the " Hugueuot " appeared a small portrait of
human interest for ever.
Mrs. Coventry Patmore,
and " Ophelia." The
latter is insistently Pre-
Raphaelite in the colour,
raw and positive and
strong, with a disdain
of the mystery, pre-
paration, subduing the
general " cooking " of
tints to which the eyes
of the world had become
floats down under the
pendent boughs with her
garments still buoying
her up; she sings, "in-
capable of her own dis-
tress." Her pallid face
was studied from that
of the beautiful Mrs.
Dante Rossctti, whom
another hand has shown
us so often as a vision-
ary Beatrice. The por-
trait of Mrs. Patmore is
a curious little work, as
line as a miniature, but
with an absence of ex-
pression which looks
almost deliberate. To
readers and lovers (and all readers must bo lovers) of " The Angel in the House "
this portrait has a personal interest ; for this was the poet's first wife, to whoso
inspiration that profound and tender poem was due, and whose praises are sung in
those of the " still unpraised Honoria."
Another popular picture though less popular than the " Huguenot " appeared
in 1853. "The Order of Release" is extremely dramatic. To say that it tells a
story is to do it an injustice. It tells no more story than can be told in a scene.
(By Hind TYi-mbi'im of Henry Gram and Co., Pall Mall.)
THE MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
It presents a spectacle, and is perfectly and legitimately pictorial. And the simplicity
of the idea is such that ingenious interpreters have put themselves to pains to
find accessory meanings in the group. Obviously, it signifies nothing hut that which
it presents the release of a prisoner by his wife, who hands to the gaoler the order
for his enfranchisement. That she, with her baby slung to her shoulder, has won it
or brought it through toil and travel, is evident from the wayworn look of her naked
SIR JOHN EVERETT MILLAIS, R.A. 37
feet and shortened petticoats. The heauty of the picture dramatically and not tech-
nically considered lies in the eloquence of the two actions, especially the husband's,
who, broken by suffering into a pathetic abdication of his virile self-reliance, falls
on the neck of his valiant wife. Millais has not often given emotion so direct and
penetrating. This picture of Scotch life in times when law itself was not even a
wild justice, has made one of the most popular of the earlier Millais engravings.
And that popularity existed in spite of the total lack of sentimental heauty in this
heroine. For the sake of the pathetic clinging of her husband's hands, the public
forgave her her square haul face and her bony ligure, and also the shortness of her
legs, whereby Millais vindicated and enforced a Pre-Raphaelite protest against t In-
elegant exaggerations of long limbs. " The Order of Hi-lease " was also a commis-
sion, and it was Thackeray who had the pleasant task of handing to Millais the
dealer's request. In this case, too, the model daughter of Mr. (iray, of Bowers-
well. Perthshire was beautiful. A year later she became the painter's wife ; and it
required all a Pre-Haphaelite's severity to render her in so hard an aspect. With
this picture was exhibited " The Proscribed Hoyalist, l(>."il," a subject somewhat too
merely romantic. A cavalier, hiding in a hollow tree, kisses the hand of a lady
who brings him food. She tenderly allows the kiss, but trembles under it, glancing
through the trees with wide eyes. In this tiguro we have a decided relaxation of
severities; the lady is we should have feared to write the trivial words had we
been writing with the fear of the Brotherhood before our eyes a pretty woman.
After his marriage and his election to the Associateship, Millais exhibited
pictures which here and there showed signs of vacillation as some of his friends
might call it or of development, as the change might appear to others; and which,
again, at other moments were such as would have had the blessing of the most
zealous of the Brothers. A little love of melodrama, which has now and then
appeared in the work of a most charmingly and humanly versatile painter, was
revealed in " The Rescue." A house is on fire, the hose are seen playing outside
through a window, and in the ruddy light of the blaxo a helmetcd fireman runs
down a staircase, with its stair-carpet, to put two children into the arms of a fair-
haired mother, who waits below. Where a Pre-Raphaelite is modern, ho is, of
course, realistically modern, and the details of this comfortable house are inevitably
Philistinish. The movement is rapid and impetuous, and the expression vigorous.
But what most gave the public matter for talk was the firelight. Never is the
amateur critic more ready with remarks than when ho is talking over effects of
firelight or reflections in still water. But, if he would only believe it, nothing is
more impossible to dogmatise about. Firelight affects local colour in a manner on
which no one can calculate, and reflections are ruled by laws and bylaws which are
too complicated for the ordinary mind to master. Nevertheless, as wo have said,
criticism of this kind is always volunteered with confidence. It must have given
the still young and still tentative artist sensible comfort in more than common per-
secutions, that the annual "Academy Notes " of Mr. liuskin were firtl of authoritative
38 THE MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
and unmeasured praise. The Pre-Kaphaelite critic, though a contemporary of these
boy-painters, had a power and weight of utterance which won for his pen a serious
attention to say the least not readily given to their pencils. Of "The Kescue "
he wrote : " It is the only great picture exhibited .... but this is very great.
The immortal element is in it to the full. It is easily understood, and the public
very generally understand it. Various small cavils have been made at it, chiefly
by conventionalists, who never ask how the thing is, but fancy for themselves how it
ought to be. I have heard it said, for instance, that the fireman's arms should
not have looked so black in the red light ; " after which the writer insists that
black keeps almost all its blackness when compared with other colours. As to these
matters of faithfulness to fact, it is curious to observe how Mr. Kuskin insists upon
the merit of that kind of truth when he is praising a painter he delights to honour,
and how severe he becomes when the painter has forfeited favour. In later years
Millais was witheringly reproved by him for a wild rose drawn with four petals.
But Holbein is excused for drawing a skeleton in which the number of the ribs
was decided by the designer's fancy !
About an almost forgotten picture treating of an invalided Crimean officer at
home with his family which appeared in 1850, the same glowing-hearted enthusiast
wrote : " I thought some time ago that this painter was likely to be headed by
others of the school, but Titian himself could hardly head him now. This picture
is as brilliant in invention as consummate in executive power. Both this and
' Autumn Leaves ' will rank in future among the world's best masterpieces, and
I see no limit to what the painter may hope in future to achieve. I am not
sure whether he may not be destined to surpass all that has been done in figure-
painting, as Turner did all past landscape." It is impossible to repress a smile,
by no means unreverential, at the artless art by which Ruskin sought, by his
phrasing, to give his wildest raptures a semblance of judicial deliberation.
"Autumn Leaves" has, in effect, touches of intellectual greatness. It is noble,
not forgetable, a part of the artistic experience of most of us. Four girls of
various ages, but all of them little girls, too young for the cheap allusions of
sentimental love, stand by the heap of leaves which they are piling up for
burning. They are neither sad nor gay, but infinitely serious and unconscious
human beings in their transitory youth surrounded by the dying leaves of Nature
in her transitory death. But we hesitate in using any emotional or picturesque
phrases about a picture which has perfect reticence and self-command, and
many invaluable negative qualities. Two of the girls have a certain severe
beauty, the two others are unlovely in a grave and simple way ; their costume
and their unkempt hair, neither long nor short, their long bodies, widening where
the waist of convention grows "beautifully less "--all this is a Pre - Eaphaelite
pronouncement of pristine emphasis. Again hear Mr. Euskin : This is "by
far the most poetical picture the painter has yet conceived, and also, so far as
I know, the first instance existing of a perfectly painted twilight. It is as easy
SIR JOHN EVERETT MILLAIS, It.A.
(>"rom a Draining on Wood.)
as it is common to give obscurity to twilight, but to give the glow within its
darkness is another matter; and though Giorgione might have come near the
glow, he never gave the valley mist. Note also the subtle difference between the
40 THE MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
purple of the long near range of hills and the hlue of the distant peak emerging
heyond." To the art-student of a later day one educated more or less among the
more quickly and suhtly caught impressions of natural effect, as taken hy the art
of France the landscape and the sky of " Autumn Leaves " may seem somewhat
ponderous and too suggestive of deliberate pigment. But it would he as futile for
the critic to-day to judge the young Millais without remembering how distinctively
he was an Englishman, as it was for the critic of 1850 to condemn him without
recognising his principles as a Pre-Raphaelite.
In the same year appeared " The Child of the Eegiment " a child wounded
by a stray shot in the interior of a church, and laid upon a tomb. Also " The
Blind Girl," of which the landscape background was studied at Winchelsea. This
breezy place of downs and flocks Millais persuaded Thackeray to visit, and the
novelist made his own landscape studies there for his never-to-be-finished story,
In 1857 Millais lost the voice of Ruskin. He was gradually, indeed, to gain
the voices of a nation, a very chorus of praise, but the most thrilling word in
contemporary English literature was to be either lifted up against him, or silent
for him. It was " Sir Isumbras " that did the mischief. To the candid spectator
it looks a fairly Fre-Baphaelite picture in every sense. The scene is a summer
twilight lighting a river ; across a fording-place rides a knight in golden armour,
giving a lift to two poor children. There is great beauty in the landscape. The
knight's figure is dignified, and somewhat more broadly painted than was then the
painter's wont; the horse has been called a "plum-coloured" steed, and his pro-
portions are perhaps a little doubtful. If it is difficult to see wherein " Sir Isumbras
at the Ford " gave Mr. Ruskin offence offence which was positive pain none the
less certain is it that its painter did in effect begin to change at the time he
painted it began to take the road which led him to his Velasquez reaction ; so
that his old loving critic's eye was certainly keen to see. "I see with consternation,"
he wrote, "that it was not the Parnassian rock which Mr. Millais was ascending,
biit the Tarpeian. The change in his manner from the year of the ' Ophelia ' and
'Mariana' to 1857 is not merely fall it is catastrophe not merely a loss of
power, but reversal of principle. . . . His excellence has been effaced ' as a man
wipeth a dish, wiping it and turning it upside down.'' The principal error "in
pictorial grammar," he proceeds, "is the painting of figures in twilight as bright as
yellow and vermilion could make them, while the towers and hills far above, and
far more exposed to light, are yet dark and blue." Sir John Millais, in these later
days, defends the truth of his effect, nevertheless, as true to the nature he had
From this year, or about this year, those " Notes on the Academy," by which
John Ruskin had made and marred many a painter, ceased. The critic had lost
his happy faith in his young Pre-Raphaelites. When, many years later, in 1875,
he resumed them for one year, through his delight in a picture of Mr. Leslie's, he
SIR JOHN EVERETT MILLAIS, R.A. 41
found Millais painting a "Deserted Garden" with a four-petalled wild rose in it.
He had some reason then for charging the painter of "Ophelia" with a disregard
of the facts of flowers.
The two canvases exhibited with "Sir Isuinbras" were of no great importance;
bnt two years later there was a noteworthy picture, " The Vale of Rest," which
has been little seen since, a great deal modified and repainted, it helped to
represent the painter at the 1802 International. The subject is powerful. It is
twilight again, and a long purple cloud " cigar-shaped " it was called when the
picture first puxzlcd the world lies across the light. In a convent cemetery, one
brawny nun, putting all her simple power into her work, with veil thrown back
and sleeves tucked up, is shovelling out a new grave. A younger sits upon another
grave with her solemn face in thought. It was the ugliness of this woman, in
whom the public hoped to see a trivial love-story, or a sentimental regret, or at
least a cheaply-effective contrast to the ill-favoured digger, which caused the picture
to be disliked; and this point was surrendered by the painter, who in after-years
put in a beautiful face (Miss Lane, daughter of the late Richard Lane, A.K.A.,
being his sitter), but kept the serious and unsentimental intention of the expression.
In 1SOO came "The Black Brunswicker," only less popular than "The
Huguenot," but far less simple and pathetic. The girl (painted from Miss Kate
Dickens, now Mrs. Pcrugini) is clad in a white satin dress, the sheen of which,
very deliberately rendered, delighted the public taste. In 1802 there was another
wonderful dress, a brown silk worn by a blonde in " Trust Me." A father in " pink "
on a hunting morning (he is an admirable portrait of Mr. Lane) holds out his hand
to his daughter for a letter which for her own innocent reasons she will not show.
She stands holding it behind her back with purity and candour in her charming
face. Her father will certainly trust her, as he ought. The public, easily puxxled,
was not quite certain as to who it was that was intended to speak the words ; but,
in fact, the title was left in its ambiguous state simply because Millais found it
difficult to decide whether "Father, Trust Me," or "Daughter, Trust Me," would
be the more appropriate. To the same year belongs " The Hansom," a romantic
subject. We have failed to trace the history or to find the precise date of painting
of "Apple Blossoms," a kind of Spring companion to "Autumn Leaves," but it
was one of the Millais pictures at the International Exhibition of 1862.
From this time on the development of the painter's manner became rapid.
The Pre-Eaphaclite idea disappeared. In his own person Millais seemed to live
through and experience the evolution of the Renascence. He had been Fra
Angelico or Perugino ; he became Velasquez ; he became Sir Joshua Reynolds.
Surely no one should condemn an order of variation which took place in the man
according to the same laws by which it took place in the world. " The Eve of
St. Agnes" (1863) gave rise to a controversy, such as people love. Was Keats
right in describing moonlight as transmitting the colour of a stained window?
We fear that the best authorities decided by experience that the inooii recognises
42 THE MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
local colours very little, if at all. However this might be, the moonlight was a
puzzle. The Princess of Wales, "doing" her first Eoyal Academy, in days when
her English was not idiomatic, did not at first know what to make of it. "Ah,"
she said, after a moment, "I see, moonshine!" And the enemies of "St. Agnes"
said, rather slangily, that the work was, in fact, moonshine. But a juster judgment
will decide that this very beautiful picture has for its principal fault the placing
of Madeline's figure so that it faces the bed, instead of keeping steadily the back
to the bed and the face to the window, which was a condition of the charm, and
by which alone the "warm gules" could be made to fall upon her breast. At the
same period Millais was painting a series on the Parables, of which we are not
sure whether he ever executed at least in oils more than two : the fine picture
of " The Enemy Sowing Tares," and a beautiful candlelight composition, " The
Lost Piece of Money," with the single figure of the woman. This latter work
was destroyed by a gas explosion. In 1803 appeared "My Eirst Sermon," one
of the painter's little girls in rod cloak and crimped hair, to be soon followed by
"My Second Sermon " both of immense popularity. In 1804 Millais became a
" The Romans Leaving Britain " (1805) was decidedly painted with a dash
and dash was, it is scarcely necessary to say, the thing which the Pre-Raphaelite
forswore. However painted, it is a noble picture. In the clasp of the Roman soldier
about his island wife there is a remembrance of the eloquent action in. " The Order of
Release." Sorrow has broken the man ; so that the vulgar comment is apt to be that
he is " a poor creature." But it is not so; his tenderness is altogether virile. The
woman's worn and rather hard beauty is that of a long-wedded wife, whose whole
nature is wrenched by the parting. Sitting on the cliff of the British coast, she looks
with hopeless eyes over the sea which will never bring her the conquering, alien
husband of her youth again. 1800 was one of Millais' few "off" years. In 1867
he went on with his pictures of his children ; and in 1868 appeared the beautiful
group of "The Sisters," in which the mastery gained by years was strongly
apparent, and the diploma picture, " Souvenir of Velasquez." More of a subject
was the graceful and tender " Gambler's Wife," which shows a pale lady
thoughtfully turning over the cards which the players have left overnight, and
which have been the destroyers of her life. And in 1870, too, the public, who
complained that their inventive painter was inclining too much to portrait, were
gratified with "A Flood," "The Knight Errant," "The Widow's Mite," and
"The Boyhood of Raleigh." The first refers to Mr. Charles Read's novel, "Put
Yourself in his Place," where the breaking of the reservoir overwhelms a part of
the town of Sheffield, drowning and wrecking wholesale, but floating one certain
baby in its cradle into securitj T . The Raleigh picture has the pathetic interest of
containing in one of the two most charming boys a portrait of the son whom
Sir John Millais lost by death.
The year 1871 is another memorable year. Then appeared the picture which,
SIR JOHN EVERETT MILLAIS, R.A. 43
being unique, became the topic of London talk as the Millais landscape " Of
course, "Chill October" was something much more than the topic of talk It is
the finest example of literal landscape, the landscape of fact rather than of impres-
sion, which the literal
English school has
produced. It is a
very just and com-
plete scene, studied
in all the quiet varie-
ties of grey autum-
nal weather in their
effects on sky, hill,
wood, water, and a
foreground of rushes.
In the same year
appeared " Yes or
No," and "Victory,
" And it came to pass,
when Moses held up his
hand, that Israel pre-
vailed : and when he let
down his hand, Amalek
prevailed. . . . And Aaron
and Iftir stayed up his
hands, the one on the one
side, and the other on the
other side ; and his hands
were steady until the going
down of the sun."- Exodus
xvii. 11, 12.
For dignity, gravity,
intensity of expres-
sion, and virility of
action, Millais has
never surpassed this
Next year came, with two more landscapes, and a little collection of single
portraits, the bold and brilliant triad, " Hearts are Trumps." This picture of
three sisters at whist was explicitly suggested by the immortal " Waldegraves "
of Beynolds. One cannot make personal comparisons as to sitters in a portrait
group, but it is certain that the modern painter was at a disadvantage in
the matter of costume. His three ladies are clad in raiment as artificial, but
Mil J. K. MM.I..U> llol M.: Till 8TAMUAKK.
THE MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
by no means as dignified, as that of Sir Joshua's sitters. They wear too volu-
minous and too complicated dresses of pale grey, with bows and furbelows of
pink an insipid compound ; and their hair is puffed and piled in the manner
of 1872. The faces have an inimitable look of nature. Nature, rather than
grace, has been taken
for the inspiration
of their pose. The
whole is most vigorous
in execution ; but
the greatest beauty of
the picture lies in the
effect of light on the
lady in profile to the
left. The light takes
her hair, the surface
of her complexion, the
folds and edges of her
dress, in a marvellous
manner ; all the more
marvellous as it is no
strong effect of illumi-
nation, but an ordinary
full, diffused daylight.
Mr. Walter Arm-
strong, who has classi-
fied with admirable
system the groups of
Millais' works accord-
ing to the period, says
of this time that from
about 1870 onwards we find Millais devoting much less inventive effort to his
subjects than in his earlier time. The slightest incident that gives a chance to
make a picture of a pretty woman or child is enough. Of this, "Yes or No,"
"Forbidden Fruit," "New-laid Eggs," and "No," are samples. "Forbidden Fruit"
and " New-laid Eggs " are idyllic portraits of two of his own children. Even
the freshness of the English skin in youth is rendered. Portraits now increase
SIR JOHN EVERETT MILLAIS. R.A. 45
enormously, and, with landscapes, take up the place filled twenty years before by
creations which, with all their charm, were now and then more poetic than
pictorial. " The North- West Passage " is a portrait group ; for, though the girl
is, we believe, a professional model, she is treated in portrait manner; and in the
splendid old salt we have a living likeness of Trelawney, the sea-hero who lighted
Shelley's funeral pyre on the shore at Viareggio, and brought the poet's uncon-
sumed heart from the flames, and who stood by the dead Byron at Missolonghi.
A free-lance of the sea, a dweller in caverns, a kind of voluntary international
outlaw, Trelawney kept throughout his life a devotion to Shelley, to his poetry,
and to his memory, incongruous and touching in so wildly active a career. In
his latter years he settled down to vegetarianism, grog, his telescope, and his
recollections, at Worthing, a commonplace little harbour enough for the braver
of many a tempest ; and in this phase of his picturesque old age, with the trivial
surroundings of a sea-side lodging, Millais made of him one of the finest pictures
in the painter's later manner. It is almost to be regretted that the excessive reality
of the lemon and the rum and the bunting should draw the eye from the
old man's magnificent head. But, whatever Millais has abandoned of the rest of
the Pre-Raphaelite creed, he has generally persisted in his early refusal to treat
inanimate things as accessories. Witness the coverlet in the popular "Awake,"
which is more emphatically real than the flesh of the child.
In 1877 Millais painted another portrait subject, "The Yeoman of the (Juard,"
better known as the "Beefeater," the beauties and difficulties of which he had
long been eager to attack. To paint a mass of scarlet, not by evading it
(as Gainsborough beautifully and subtly evaded his masses of blue in the " Blue
Boy "), but by asserting it frankly, and to set in it the faded colours of an old
man's flesh and white hair, was a thing worth doing, and so certain was the artist
of his success, that he allowed his " Yeoman " to help to represent him at the
Paris International of 1878, when M. Chesneau said of it : " Gravely seated, the
yeoman, whose breast glitters with a crowd of medals, looks as dignified as he can
in the quaint, half-comic uniform of a 'beefeater,' one of those old-world dresses
which survive only at Windsor and the Vatican. . . . Mr. Millais has rendered
the unmitigated blaze of red with extraordinary effect. . . . The gold and dark
blue of the belt and baldrick, the ruff, the buckskin gloves, the black hat, the
brownish background, and the steel-blue of the halberds looking over the partition,
all help the scarlet. The old man's face .... is executed in a manner which
Beems clumsy beside the skilful manipulation of our French painters. But the
execution, which at first sight appears wanting in firmness, shows, on close inspec-
tion, a knowledge of the tones of ancient flesh, and a power to reproduce them
which may well amaze us." " The Hiding Passion," generally known as "The
Ornithologist "an important canvas is a portrait group, rather unequal in realisation.
Among "subject" pictures of later years we have "Princes in the Tower,"
with its beautifully-drawn limbs of children; "The Crown of Love:" "Yes;"
46 THE MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
" Effie Deans ; " and " The Master of Eavenswood." Then come the subject
portraits of pretty little girls, infinitely popular "Sweetest Eyes were Ever
Seen," "Cinderella," and "Caller Herrin'," all studied from the little daughter of
the late Mr. Buckstone, the actor; with the "Cherry Ripe " and the other little
maidens of our illustrated papers. As to portraits proper, Millais has painted a
whole gallery, to the discontent of the public and the immeasurable gain of art.
There are two at least of these the first portrait of Mr. Gladstone (1879) and the
portrait of Mr. Simon Eraser (1885), notably the latter, which every lover of great
portraiture would place in an imaginary collection of the hundred noblest portraits
produced in all the schools and all the ages of art. Millais is one of the few
English painters who have been invited to contribute autograph portraits to the
collection in the Uffizi, Florence.
In his early middle-life, or late youth, when Millais was not a recognised master,
when men were divided in opinion as to whether he would ever achieve mastery,
when increasing prosperity had placed him in Cromwell Place, but had not yet
raised his pleasure-house in Palace Gate, Millais worked assiduously in black and
white, doing enough and at sufficiently good prices to keep himself and his increasing
. family in independence, irrespective of the caprices of picture-dealers. All old
volumes of Once a Wccl; a delightful little paper, long since declined, and rather
lately dead of the Cornliill Magazine, of St. Paul's Magazine, are full of his
designs. He illustrated Trollope's profuse novels ; his drawings are to be found in
the illustrated collections of poems which were once popular as gift-books ; and
perhaps none of our painters have scattered their minor works about the country in
such industrious abundance. In "Two Fair Maidens" we give a fair example of his
slighter work 011 wood.
Building in the height of the "aesthetic' movement of some years ago, Sir John
Millais yet built himself an artist's house into which sestheticism did not enter
no, not by so much as a peacock fan. Only a few feathers, if we mistake not, in a
single vase of Oriental blue-green upon the drawing-room mantelpiece, serve to
remind us of the peculiar flash and play of colour which most of us have learned
to think so beautiful.
Thus the great red house at Palace Gate is above all things remarkable for
absence of every kind of affectation. It is scarcely picturesque, though not an
impossible house to put into a picture. It is stately and prosperous ; and prosperity
which is not obtrusive or self-assertive is in itself rather a beautiful thing than
otherwise. The face of the house is to the west. At the back, as we shall find,
stands out the enormous studio on the first floor, with its tall window northward
a conspicuous object from the Kensington High Road and northward also looks
part of a bow-window of the dining-room, its view sweeping up the broad walk of
Kensington Gardens. The hall is of generous size and clear aspect ; here as
elsewhere beaiity is obtained by excellence of materials rather than by any study of
effects. The first flight of the broad stairs goes up straight, facing the door, the
SIR JOHN EVERETT MTLLAI8, It.A. 47
Persian carpet covering them being soft and dark; and the scroll of cast-iron,
supporting the polished black wooden rail, is of beautiful design. On either side
of the brass inlaid fireplace in the hall stands a clever negro bust. The floor is of
black, white, and yellow marble, arranged in a good and bold design ; grey marble
pillars support the ceiling ; and a veined white marble dado, which recalls Genoa,
runs round the hall and leads up the stone staircase to the first lloor, where plays
the fountain, spouting from the mouth of a black seal the excellent work of Mr.
Boehm, E.A. This fine study from nature is in a frank realistic style ; the seal
sits erect with fins drawn in and head in the air; liis marble basin of clear water
is lined with bright and beautiful shells. Tapestry covers the wall above, and
several busts stand near.
From this pleasant resting-place lead the rooms of the first floor, the studio
on one side, the drawing-room and the dining-room on the other. Nearly all the
walls are of variegated whites cream-white, ivory-white, milk-white. Those who
are accustomed to this whiteness in a glowing climate know that nothing is more
broad and picturesque than the effectiveness of a greenish or creamy-white wall in
Italian sunshine and Italian shade, full of golden reflected lights, checkered with
the fine shadows of Italian vines, and accentuated by dark Italian objects --a black
cheveliire, a brown face, or a huge indistinguishable old picture. But they may be
incredulous of the beauty of a background of whitewash in England, where the grey
lights of London days, and the sunshine at half power which is the greatest glow
we ever receive in the fullest midsummer, would seem to require some surface less
dependent upon the colours of the atmosphere. Nevertheless, Sir John's warm-
white rooms have the great merit of making the most of what light there is for
seeing purposes, nor will the eyes which most delight in the distinctively English
tones of sage-green find fault with the whiteness here, where the surrounding objects
are in no case suggestive of the quaint, tender, and shadowy colours of the last
The drawing-room is most interesting in the matter of pictures. Here hang
the sketch for the noble picture of the " Boyhood of Italeigh ; " a portrait of
Millais by his fellow-Academician, Mr. Watts, whose portraits of painters form so
valuable a contribution to the records of contemporary art ; and a magnificent
Holbein the portrait of a dignified contemporary, with a full-toned colour, and
capped and bearded with black. Pictures of the artist's daughters are also here,
an oil sketch of Mrs. Langtry, and the great treasure of the house a "Leda,"
attributed, and by authorities, to Michael Angelo. The name is too great a one to
mention rashly, almost too great a one to hazard conjecturally at all ; but where
certainty is an impossibility, conjecture is permitted. Besides, no one can name
the master to whose chisel this exquisite work could be duo if that of Michael
Angelo did not create it. Another treasure is an alto-rilievo in terra-cotta, attributed
to John of Bologna; while of more modem interest are some sketches by Leech
of the Duke of Wellington in 1851, a picture by Tito Conti, a basso-rilievo by
THE MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
Marochetti a por-
trait of Millais at
the age of twenty
and the beginning of
a sketch for bis own
"Eve of St. Agnes."
After the pictures,
the furniture of the
rooms must have a
word of description.
A Bernard Palissy
fish-dish may pro-
perly be classed under
the decoration rather
than the art. The
(white also) have
panels of brass let in
at the inner sides
(where tiles are usu-
ally placed) with ex-
cellent effect. The
mirrors are French
and Italian, and
bright with gilding ;
and of the last cen-
tury is an inlaid
German cabinet hav-
ing a great deal of
ship, and six bolts to
its lock. A wooden trellis -work screen and some silver work are from Burmah.
The curtains are of ruby velvet embroidered in crewels, the crewel-work being from
the Castle of Kenilworth, and possibly from the hands of Amy Eobsart. A brown
parquet and large Indian rugs complete our notes of the more salient adornments
of the stately double drawing-room. The " Leda " stands in a deeply-recessed
alcove which projects (externally) over the front entrance, and connects the two
parts of the drawing-room. Of the dining-room nothing need be said, save that it
is quaintly and effectively decorated with a number of dark old-masterish pictures of
game and fruit, cocks and hens and fish quadri di scuola.
Of course the interest of the house centres in that great and famous studio
SIR JOHN EVERETT MILLAIS, K. A.
in which so many of the works of one among the very few living Englishmen
who are worthy of the name of master have been created. It is a great, grand,
massive, and lofty room, the Pompeian red walls of which are almost covered by
Beauvais tapestry. Great oak pilasters rise to the ceiling on either side of the
tall window and of the mantelpiece a fine piece of old marble carving above
which hangs a Spanish portrait bearing proofs of Murillo's hand. Of Millais' own
pictures which stand on the easels in the illustration, the foremost is " My Great
Grandmother ; " " Cinderella " is to the right, and the portrait of Lord Wimborne
stands behind. The striking portrait of Mrs. Caird hangs in the recess to the right
beyond the pilaster. At the time these pictures were in progress, the portrait of
two sittings ad-
vanced, and destined
never to be finished
stood among the
uuframed canvases ;
also a first sketch
of Sir Henry Thomp-
son. Close by is a
proof engraving after
portrait of Mr. Glad-
stone. For the rest,
two old carved cabi-
nets are full of ex-
one (to the right in
our drawing) being
the cabinet intro-
duced into the beau-
tiful picture of " The
and once part of the
furniture of one of
Charles I.'s houses ;
and the other a North
German antique, the
diploma work of a
in sign of his fitness
for admission into a
* LCOVI! THI ""**
50 THE MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
The work is finely finished, and the whole structure is eminently valuable as an
illustration of the self-respecting labour and art of the age of guilds. Trades-
unions, by the way, are our modern equivalent for those societies. How would a
trade-union bit of time-work look by the side of this North German cabinet?
Below, on the ground-floor, and to the south side of the hall, opens the
breakfast-room. Here the walls are quite covered with engravings and other things
in black and white, such as the numerous diplomas given to the great English
artist. First among these comes the Eoyal Academy diploma. The diploma
given with the medal of honour at the Paris Exhibition of 1878 hangs below,
and elsewhere are the Vienna award of 1873, and various other documents which
must equally be fraught with pleasant memories to their possessor. The engravings
are, however, the life of the room. With the exception of " The Strawberry Girl,"
Phillip's " Gloria," and a small work of Dante Eossetti's, the originals are all,
or nearly all, Millais' own, and they illustrate his career almost completely.
"The Carpenter's Shop" is here, and many a work of later date and manner
"The Black Brunswicker," "The Huguenot," and "The White Cockade;"
"Ophelia," " Eosalind and Celia," "The Order of Eelease," "The Gambler's
Wife;" "My First Sermon" and " My Second Sermon;" "Asleep "and "Awake,"
with "Still for a Moment" and "The Picture of Health;" while to somewhat
later times belong the " Effie Deans and Geordie Eobertson," " The Princes in
the Tower," and the pathetic profile of a sempstress exhibited some time ago at
the Grosvenor. The drawing by Eossetti deals with his patron poet Dante. On
the first anniversary of his lady's death the young Florentine sat alone drawing an
angel, when, looking round, he was surprised by the visit of some friends who had
entered unawares, but whom he would, had he known of their coming, have
greeted courteously; whereupon he told them that some one else had been with
him. We have put the incident into clumsy English for lack of remembering the
beautiful and simple words of Eossetti's own rendering from the Italian of Dante's
autobiography. The little drawing of course illustrates the first fervours of the Pre-
Eaphaelite movement. The inscription records the poet-painter's gift of the drawing
to his "P.E. brother, J. E. Millais." In those early days, Sir John reminds
us, the young enthusiasts meant to hold together and even to live together, for
they had in contemplation an inscription for the door of the community, bearing
the initials P.E.B. (Pre-Eaphaelite Brotherhood), which the Philistine public were
free to interpret " please ring the bell," if they should be so minded.
Besides the engravings from Millais' pictures, there are reproductions of his
admirable work in black and white drawings for books and magazines, and in
particular one of a group listening to the telling of a ghost story, which is full of
dramatic expression. Over the mantelpiece in this same breakfast-room is the only
painting which the apartment contains a portrait of Lady Millais, frank and
dignified in pose, with a dress of red velvet, and a magazine lying in the lap.
And this bright and substantial palace is distinctly a painter's home, and not
SIR JOHN EVERETT MILLAIS, li.A. 51
merely a painter's bouse. It has not been built in order tbat it migbt abide as
a monument of taste, but chiefly that it migbt stand as the beautiful house of a
household. It is not, therefore, altogether full of painting and of the interests
connected with painting, for the other arts have their place, and the movements
of Beethoven's sonatas come through the open doors into the grave silence of
the studio. That an artist who bus done so much for so many homes of others
should be free to have for himself the very house of his heart and bis fancy is so
fitting that it is a pleasure, in a world of much prosaic injustice, to see poetical
justice thus triumphant. An artist chiefly serves others ; the picture which has
been his secret for a little time, his hope for many days, and his companion, is
destined to be the possession of strangers for ever after. If he attaches himself to
his own thought and labour in his pictures, he must endure many pangs of parting.
Some of those dear children of his he may never see again ; of a few he may bo
too painfully aware that they have fallen into the hands of the Philistines ; and of
others that they are where an unsatisfactory light as well as an unsatisfactory
eye is upon them. It is said that Sir John Millais himself would not be sorry if
the chances of change should bring any number of his old works again within his
reach. And if the master's pictures are the treasures of a hundred homes, the
reproductions of his work have given interest to many thousands. So, as we have
said, in return for all this diffused good and pleasure, he has won for himself
the pleasure of following his own altogether unfettered choice in the building of
(from a Photograph by Mr. Charles Watkins.)
HAMO THORN YCROFT, A.R.A.
E. HAMO THORNYCROFT, who belongs to an old Cheshire family, was
born in London on March 9th, 1850. He spent his childhood with an
uncle and aunt in a very rustic and remote corner of Cheshire, left, it
would seem, pretty free to grow stalwart in all manner of country
exercises, and not much troubled with lessons till well on in boyhood.
Lessons, however, sooner or later prove inevitable to the most muscular of
amateur poachers, and the boy had at last to go to Macclesfield Grammar-school.
In 1863 the exquisite fresh life in Cheshire had to be abandoned, and was succeeded
by four years' hard work at University College School, London. After one year at
the college itself, Mr. Thornycroft entered his father's studio, for, as is well known,
both his parents were distinguished sculptors. In June, 1869, the young man was
JIA JfO THORN YCROFT, A.It. A. 53
admitted as a student to the Eoyal Academy Schools, became acquainted with Foley,
attended the lectures of Weekes, and began to see something of the art of sculpture
as it was practised twelve years ago. His progress at the schools was rapid and
steady, and he looks upon himself to this day as a typical Academy student. To
the question, "Whose pupil were you?" he answers, "The Royal Academy and the
Elgin Room were my only masters." The gaining of the silver medal in the antique
school, in December, 1870, was the first of many similar successes. It was in the
Royal Academy exhibition of 1871 that he first came before the public, with a
marble bust of the late Dr. Sharpcy, Professor in Physiology in University College.
In that year Mr. Thornycroft went to Italy, and he attributes a great modification
of his aims in art to the study of Michael Angelo. In 187'2 lie was busy with the
Park Lane fountain, in which the work was pretty well divided between his father
and himself. The figures of " Comedy," a stiff and archaic statue such as a lad of
genius is sure to produce, " Shakespeare," and the surmounting figure of " Fame "
blowing a trumpet, were entirely devised and modelled by Mr. Hamo Thornycroft.
The "Fame" was his principal contribution to the exhibition of 1H73 ; it shows
little indication of his future distinction of style. The bronze equestrian statuette
of Lord Mayo in 1874 was far more remarkable, and indeed in every way a notable
production for so young a man. The same year saw him gain the medal for drawing
from the life, this honour being snatched for once from the painters, who were, let
us hope, " ravis d'etre vaincus dans leur propre science."
It was in 1875, however, and still in competition with others, that Mr. Thornycroft
first showed himself as an original power in his art. The Council of the Royal
Academy gave as the theme for the biennial gold medal group the subject of " A
Warrior Bearing a Wounded Youth from the Field of Battle." Mr. Thornycroft
won, and at a canter ; there was no possibility of hesitation, for among a variety
of studies of an academic kind, meritorious but imitative, his alone had the cha-
racter of a genuine conception by an original and competent workman. This group,
exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1870, became, in bronze, one of the standing
prizes of the Art Union of London. It set the foundation to the sculptor's ascend-
ing fame. The warrior was represented as a grave and bearded personage in the
prime of manhood, clothed as a Greek, with a crested helmet, and carrying, with
straightened arms and balanced body, a nude youth, whose head falls upon his
shoulder in helpless languor. The tension and muscular power of the elder figure
were finely contrasted with the weakness and lassitude of the younger, and the
sentiment of the whole group was singularly quiet, healthy, and severe, with no
approach to affectation on the one hand or effeminacy on the other. The theme
could hardly have been treated with more dignity or with a finer sentiment ; and
several points in the composition, though not at all obtruded, are soon detected,
and show great study and a happy intuition. The only fault which criticism could
suggest was that the youth seemed too large and solid to be carried so easily by a
man scarcely taller than himself; but this was a fault, if a fault at all, on the right
THE MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
side, since massiveness is of the first importance in sculpture. In an exhibition not
otherwise up to the average of excellence, this group divided public attention with
Mr. Woolner's bust of Tennyson and the " Duke of Wellington " of Alfred Stevens.
In 1877 Mr. Thornycroft was unrepresented at the Boyal Academy, but in
HEAD OP LOT 8 WIFE.
1878 he again attracted the attention of the critics by his marble statue, of heroic
size, entitled " Lot's Wife." We give in our engraving the head of this figure,
turned, as will be seen, so sharply over the left shoulder as to bring the muscles of
the neck into high relief. The woman is of athletic mould, with shoulders un-
usually broad and square ; and something almost barbaric, without being at all
Oriental, distinguishes her mien and features. There is a certain exaggeration of
type, excusable and natural in a young sculptor conscious of his powers and just
56 THE MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
fresh from the study of the Tomb of the Medici, and due, perhaps, to a conscious
revolt against the smooth prettiuess of the conventional female statue. She has
snatched up her jewels in one hand, and, in the act of fleeing, turns back to catch
one more glimpse of the cities of the plain. This momentary action is arrested,
and, to suggest that she is being transformed into a pillar of salt, the sculptor has
made all the lower part of the body columnar, and has clothed it in drapery that
takes long fluted folds, almost like the decoration of a pillar. These folds become
vaguer, softer, and more perpendicular as they approach the feet. The idea was
imaginative, but the effect not perhaps entirely satisfactory. Where there may be
discovered, perhaps, a failure, is in the insistence on the rather trivial phantasy of
the figure's turning to actual salt, which has made the lower half of the statue
monotonous and barely intelligible. The upper part of the figure, on the contrary,
left nothing to be desired. The modelling of the bare left shoulder, of the right arm
and hand clutching the jewels, and of the neck and throat, was superbly designed
and carved, possibly in a more pronounced style than the taste of an older man
would have dictated, but of almost unequalled interest as promising dignified and
noble work in the future.
In the early months of 1879, Mr. Thornycroft exhibited in the South Kensington
Museum, as afterwards at Burlington House, a singularly learned and original study
for a memorial to the famous Dr. William Harvey, who, as Cowley said, " first
trod the noble circle of the blood." In this statuette the sculptor aimed at
representing the great doctor intent on the examination of a heart which lies on
a table by his side, with note-book in hand about to write down the result of his
investigation. He wears the gown of the doctor of medicine the work-day gown,
not the grand state robe and has his cap on, which is a great advantage for an
out-door statue. Harvey was thirty-eight years of age when he made his great
discovery, and Mr. Thornycroft has attempted to represent him so, although the
features are taken from portraits painted later in life. It is a great pity that this
admirable work has never been carried out in monumental form. Mr. Thornycroffc's
marble group of 1879, called " Stepping Stones," a girl of about fourteen crossing
a brook with her infant brother in her arms, was a disappointment to some of the
sculptor's admirers, who feared that they saw in it a relaxed hold on the principles
of plastic work, and an indifference to the finer ambitions of the artist. It was a
little trivial and popular in conception, and seemed a retrograde step, taken after
the " Lot's Wife." The sculptor, however, satisfactorily explains this, and justifies
the instinct of his critics, by stating that this was quite an early work, exhibited
so late only because he had then first received a commission to execute it in
marble. Thus relegated back into its inventor's youth it takes much greater
importance, and the side view is seen to possess many of the graceful and poetical
qualities that mark his later compositions.
None, perhaps, even of the artist's admirers were quite prepared, however, for
his great success of 1880. His statue of " Artemis " and his bronze statuette called
HAMO THORNYCEOFT, A.R.A. 67
" Putting the Stone " caused something of the same surprise that a sturdy walker
produces by suddenly becoming a fleet and graceful runner. The engraving we
print of the "Artemis" will give some idea of the general pose and outline of this
exquisite group. The attributes of the goddess are those which are universally
connected with her as the sister of Phoebus Apollo. The bow is in her left hand,
which, passing behind her back, is drawn close against her right hip by her hound,
gone astray to the wrong side. She pauses in an attitude of arrested action, to
take an arrow with the fingers of her right hand from a quiver slung across her
shoulder. Her arms and the left breast are bare ; her feet are imsandalled, as being
divine and therefore unendaugered by the thorns of the forest. The sculptor has
given a most delicate and effective originality to the drapery by drawing the slight
chiton which is the only garment that Artemis wears in thin folds over three girdles
that are so concealed. In this arrangement of the robe, and in the uncovering of
the breast, the statue recalls the mode in which the Greeks depicted the Amazons,
and in particular Penthesilea, the victress of the victor Achilles. The dog has been
much admired, and a little anecdote concerning it, which has been recorded in the
Century, may be worth telling. The sculptor had arrived at the point when 1 it-
wanted a hound as a model, and he could find none that suited him. On the very
day when a dog was to have been finally fixed upon, there came to the studio door
a very beautiful deer-hound, without any collar or mark of ownership, which seemed
to have suffered much privation, and which absolutely refused to go away. The
model was exactly what Mr. Thornycroft wanted, and while every effort was made
to find the dog's master, the charming creature sat for her portrait. Nobody claimed
her, and she became the pet of the household ; but the effects of her long exposure
brought on a decline, and, in spite of all the care that was taken of her, she died
on the night of the day when the model was finished. A Greek would have said,
with the utmost confidence, that the goddess had sent her, and when her work was
done had taken her away again. The enthusiasm with which this work was greeted
was greater than has welcomed any group in English sculpture for a long time, and
soon after the opening of the exhibition the sculptor received a commission from
the Duke of Westminster to execute it for Eaton Hall.
The success of the " Artemis " a little obscured the excellences of the bronze
statuette, "A Youth Putting the Stone." The sculptor is himself a proficient in
this game, which requires a rare combination of strength and knack. The spare,
almost stringy figure of the young athlete was an admirable piece of workmanship,
as masterly a study in the nude as Mr. Thornycroft has done. The artist talks of
producing a series of small bronze statues, illustrative of English games, a series of
which this will be the first. It is to be hoped that he will persevere in this intention,
and make himself the Myron of our English gymnasiums. Such a series of
statuettes would have a permanent value independent of their power of beauty as
works of art, and might introduce a healthy variety into the somewhat hackneyed
choice of subjects to which modern sculpture has hitherto confined itself.
T E U C E R.
HAMO THORNYCROFT, A. It. A. 59
On the 20th of January, 1881, Mr. Thornycroft was elected an Associate of
the Eoyal Academy, an honour which has seldom, if ever, fallen to the lot of so
young a sculptor. His work for the ensuing exhibition was accordingly looked for
with curiosity, and his principal production at the Academy was a statue of
" Teucer," the typical Homeric bowman, entirely nude, and of heroic size. Teucer
is represented in the act of supporting the army of Greece, which otherwise mainly
consisted of spearmen, against the ranks of Troy. Secure behind the shield of his
brother Ajax, Teucer aimed constantly at Hector, but in vain. Homer could not,
however, permit his mighty archer to be stigmatised as a bad shot, and ho therefore
states that each shaft was directed by the gods to another Trojan heart, since
Hector was not to be slain. Mr. Thornycroft has given to the face of his archer
an expression of intense malice and of eager expectation. He has aimed once more
at Hector, and his fingers scarcely relax as he bends slightly forward, retaining the
tense curve of his figure, while he watches the flight of the arrow. The whole
statue is tingling with vitality; strength, passion, intelligence, are all there in
arrested action ; and the warrior, unused to being thwarted in his purpose, can
scarcely breathe until he sees that his vengeance is accomplished. The legs are
drawn close together, and are still tense with the effort of resisting the opposite
action of the arms, which are almost parallel to the ground. Nothing could be
less conventional than this figure, which lias something almost archaic about its
severity and rigidity. This is perhaps the most courageously realistic work that Mr.
Thornycroft has produced, but realistic without any loss of that distinction and
that harmony of lino which are the poetry of sculpture. The spectator is at first
puz/lcd to say in what the singular appropriateness of the attitude consists ; his eye
soon convinces him that it lies in that firm tension of the whole figure, and that
subtle bend from the head to the feet, in answer to the curved line of the bow.
Mr. Thornycroft's " Teucer," which is now in the public collection at South
Kensington Museum, is a figure that has done more to restore the prestige of sculpture
in England, and to give us hopes of a general revival of the art, than any which
has been produced within the present generation. There has rarely been such
unanimity of applause as greeted this statue, and we may be inclined to turn upon
the sculptors who declare that the critics overlook their work, with the answer that
when they produce such work as this there is no inclination to do them an injustice.
Whether the " Teucer " is or is not, as has rather rashly been asserted, " the best
imaginative statue ever exhibited at the Royal Academy," can hardly be decided
without careful consideration of what Bacon and Flaxman may have exhibited before
the memory of living generations ; but it is very easy to admit that recent times
have shown us nothing in England fit to compare with it. It will not be without
interest, before we leave the "Teucer," to record the opinion pronounced on it by
Millais. "The statue is whole," said the painter; "if it had been dug up in
fragments, nations would be contending for possession of them."
The female head in high relief, half sobbing, half singing, to which is given
TEE MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
as a title Shelley's lino,
" Our sweetest songs are
those that tell of saddest
thought," exhihited at the
same time, attracted fewer
observers, but to students
of the artist's general work
it is not less significant as
an example of his favourite
mood of imaginative im-
pulse, held in, as it were,
by a rein of realistic ob-
We have said nothing
of the portrait busts, which
form so important a part
of the repertory of every
modern sculptor. It seems
to us that his success in
this branch of his art de-
pends very much on his
personal sympathy with the
type. Mr. Thornycroft has
exhibited heads in which
we find nothing that we
do not find in the work of
much less gifted contem-
poraries, and some in which
he seems to rise suddenly
to the highest level. An
unnamed head of a beautiful
woman, exhibited at the
Dudley Gallery in 1880, and
a bust showing the most
sensitive perception of the
beauty of intellectual old
age the portrait of Sir
Arthur Cotton are eminent
examples of the second
class. A face and figure
full of their own firmness
our sculptor put on record,
HAMO TIIORNTCROFT, A.R.A. 61
in liis full-length posthumous statue of Lord Bcaconsfield in 1882. The attitude
is composed, but the repose is that of a pause in conversation, not of reverie or
solitude. Lord Beaconsfield is in court dress, wearing the Ribbon of the Garter.
The slender and by no means stalwart figure has a slight bend ; the left hand
is laid on the hip with an action that is at once light and rather weary the
action of an alert old man, who is yet conscious of a back slightly tired with
standing ; the other hand fingers the blue ribbon. The sculptor has accepted the
difficulty of modern dress quite frankly, making his lines graceful and pure. The
insuperable trouser-leg is of course not there ; nor has any sculptor yet mastered
that. A statue of Thomas Gray, the poet, for the Hall of Pembroke College,
Cambridge, was among Mr. Thornycroft's subsequent works ; also an equestrian
statuette of Edward I., cast in wax a material chosen by an English sculptor of
another generation, Mr. Bell, in making his " Eve " for the International Exhibi-
tion of 1851.
Far more important a landmark in Mr. Thornycroft's career is " The Mower,"
which followed. Leaving the Greek subject, the sculptor kept the Greek inspiration,
which is evident in the artistic rendering of his English labourer, but which has
not been permitted to alter or falsely to idealise a single form, line, or construction
cf the figure. It is a Greek conception of English fact, but the fact has not been
in itself in the slightest degree affected. Such a subtle combination of an artist's
truth to his culture with truth to his subject must be studied with delight wherever
it occurs. The subject, indeed, is no ignoble one. The figure has, it is true, no grace
of heroic proportion, or spring or poise. But it has such vigorous equilibrium, such
strong construction, as satisfy the eye with harmony. The construction of parts is
also so true and so characteristic that the whole man is felt to bo an organism.
Mr. Thornycroft has placed his mower in, or, rather, has let him swing himself
into, an attitude admirably suggestive, in repose, of his occupation. The manner
in which the legs are placed, taking that kind of habitual hold of the ground which
lets the upper part of the body work free and wide, is especially true and significant.
The action of the arms is also habitual, and harmonious with the figure and its
occupation. To the face the sculptor has given a certain observant intelligence
very limited, however, not at all nimble or spirited. In one thing only has there
been a kind of idealisation, a most excusable exaggeration of the undress which an
English hay-maker allows himself in the dog-days. Nowhere, except in America,
where the farm-labourer follows the plough in an old dress-coat, does the artist
get so little of the joy of seeing the figure in action as in England. However
wretchedly our people are clad thinly in the cold, heavily in the heat, frowsily and
stalely and ungracefully always, they are always at least covered up. The artist,
therefore, who can see the long-waisted Tuscan and the light-limbed Oriental
moving at his labour, has no such opportunity with the Englishman; he must get
English action in the simulation of the studio, and English carnations in the un-
wholesome whiteness of unwonted undressing. In this way modern conditions make
62 THE MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
for one of the characteristic faults of modern art disregard of the characteristics,
national and other, of the figure, as though the face were all. But in fact there
is no part of the body which has not its inherited character of race, its significant
expression. When a peasant who has never worn shoes grows excited in his talk,
his toes become as mobile as his hands. And while all this kind of natural truth
is lost in England, it is no wonder that sculpture is neglected. It has become with
us an art that must be practised with an effort, as must the art of acting among
a people which has no habit of gesticulation.
After the " Mower " came the charming figure of the " Sower Scattering Seed."
Here the sculptor has allowed himself more apparent beauty and grace, both of
type and of garb, than in the statue of his English field-hand. The sower has a
beautiful freedom of movement and poise of attitude all natural, exquisitely easy,
with no touch of conventionality or trivial grace. Nor, indeed, in the whole
coiirse of Mr. Thornycroft's work has he ever been tempted to what the French
call a banalite. Here, as usual, we find the inimitable grace of unconscious nature,
real labour, the impulse of simplicity. This is the virile grace which no decadent
school of art has ever understood. The attitudes poor platitudes of action as they
are dear to the later Italian painters, are examples of the other kind of elegance.
The parts of this fine figure, all the constructions, the muscles and articulations,
the perfectly finished and fine joints, have been completely studied. All is as
learned as it is beautiful. It is much to be wished that the thickness of the leggings
or gaiters had been so modified that the tapering of the left leg had not been lost.
In our view of the statue, the lightness and spring of the figure are marred by the
size of this ankle.
A word as to Mr. Thornycroft's mother is not out of place here. Her name
was a famous one in the middle of the century as that of the only Englishwoman
who had ever attained eminence in the art of sculpture. That singular position she
has kept, and is not the one celebrated sculptress in the world, only because Miss
Hosmer has rivalled her in her later years. Born in 1814, Mrs. Thornycroft's
earlier years were spent in days when the opening of professions to women was
unheard of. But her father, Mr. John Francis, himself a sculptor, took a liberal
view of his little daughter's promise and taste, and allowed her first to play at
work, and afterwards to work in earnest in his studio. Fittingly enough, the first
bust she exhibited when she was still in her teens, was a bust of her father. Next
came a "Flower Girl," which won considerable attention; and when the young
sculptress married Mr. Thomas Thornycroft, himself a sculptor, and her father's
pupil, and went to Rome, her art-surroundings became so complete that her work
and study grew more serious. To her friendship with Gibson, in Eome, she owed
the qiiick and fortunate opportunity of celebrity. He so much admired her
" Sappho " and " Sleeping Child " that when the Queen applied to him to name a
good artist to model her children, he recommended the charming and sympathetic
work of the English lady. In the first of the International Exhibitions, 1851, Mrs.
-TIIK SOWKH 8CATTKK1NO 8KKD '
THE MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
Thornycroft exhibited, if we mistake not, one or two of the perfectly childlike and
pleasing statues of the Queen's little children. The four eldest she treated very
successfully in a group of the Four Seasons ; and she modelled, moreover, busts
of the Queen herself, the Duchess of Kent, and the Duchess of Gloucester, also of
all the Princesses before marriage, except the Princess Beatrice, who was modelled
by her sister, Princess Louise. To Mrs. Thornycroft also have been entrusted the
portraits in marble of the younger generation of the family. Thus Koyal commis-
sions have showered upon her. With children she has been especially successful.
In 1855 her pretty " Skipping Girl" won golden opinions in Paris. One of her
principal works consists of the monument of Baroness Braye in Stamford Church,
Leicestershire a recumbent figure, with a relief of angels. Mr. Thomas Thornycroft's
name was doubtless the less prominent because his wife's was made famous by
and her fortunate
But his work at-
and his widow (Mr.
in 1885) has de-
the completion of
in the Melbury
is the home of
It is so called
her unique position,
and quick success,
tests his talent ;
voted herself to
the colossal group
which he left un-
the Thorny crofts,
after a fine old
built in the best
taste of its period,
now crumbling to
decay, in a remote
corner of Cheshire,
once the ancestral
home of the family.
It is built in that
later Victorian style
to which our architects have given the
not altogether appropriate name of Queen
Anne. It is of red brick, as houses should
be under a murky sky. Though not built
wholly from Mr. Thornycroft's designs, it MR THORNYCROFT , 8 HOCM . THE POINTINQ STUDIO _ THE POKCH .
has yet been controlled by his taste, and
of the entrance porch he is specially proud, since this is entirely his own device. He
was delighted when Mr. Waterhouse, the architect, admired its idea and proportions.
HAMO THORNYCKOFT, A.Ii.A.
A second door admits into the dwelling and into a narrow vestibule that runs along-
side the house, of which the low leaded windows are seen in our vignette. At the
THE LAUUE STUDIO.
further end west stands an equestrian statuette of the Queen, the work of the
elder Thornycroft. It is from this corner that we obtain that charming peep of
the inner hall and the staircase which our artist has depicted in another sketch.
Very happily do lines and curves blend ; very pleasantly to the eye do the subdued
tints of hangings combine with the dark polish of the wooden stairs, the red
THE MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
tiling of the floor, the bric-a-brac, the photographs and engravings that line the
walls ; while beyond, giving grace, colour, and, as it were, the heuediction of
nature to the whole,
are the green trees
of the garden, seen
through the leaded
window at the hase.
From this hall open
oiit the drawing-
room and dining-
room on the left,
the gallery on the
left, the gallery on
the right. But ere
we explore these
rooms let us hasten to the studio,
where presides the master-spirit.
Mr. Thornycroft's studio, or
rather studios, are an annex to the
house, connected with it by a
pretty, narrow little conservatory,
gay with flowers, forming an appro-
priate entrance to a sanctuary of
art. The first room we enter hence
is rather a depository of plaster
copies of some of the various art-
works of the family. Here stand
not only Mr. Hamo Thornycroft's
" Shakespeare," designed for the
Park Lane fountain, his gold medal
group of a " Warrior Bearing a
Wounded Youth from the Field
of Battle," his many portrait busts
of varied merit, but also works by his father, whose pupil he has been, and by
his gifted mother. There is no attempt at elegance of arrangement. The room and
one adjoining it are used for the rougher work, of which there is so much in the
II A MO THORNYCROFf, AM. A.
sculptor's art. Here is done the pointing, as it is culled: the marking out with
mathematical accuracy upon the marhle the points that shall guide the workman,
whose labour it is to block out in the rough from the formless marble what may
be called the potentiality of a statue, its rude semblance, to which it is reserved
to the sculptor's hand to give form, finish, and life. In our vignette we see the
plaster bust from
which the work-
man works the
the nicely accu-
by which the
are taken, and
made upon the
The next room,
this by only a
tion, is called the
large studio, and
is that in which
The brick walls
are tinted a
red, and a cur-
tain, hung trans-
the length of the
room, adds to
the impression of colour. Here the artist's small clay sketches are enlarged to the
size the statue shall ultimately assume ; here they can be seen full size, alive
with all the soft, tender sinuosities that make the clay medium so truly, as
Thorwaldsen expressed it, the life of the statue, of which the plaster cast is
the death, the marble the resurrection. Here stands the strange framework on
which the statue is built up, with its hanging chains that will ultimately be
enclosed in clay and form the arms and legs; its leaden pipes that will support
the head and shoulders ; the iron support, resembling a gas-pipe rather than an
TIIK INNKH BTUPIO.
THE MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
artistic utensil, that will form its prop. Large doors open ont from the studio
towards the garden, and lead on to a paved platform that juts right out into the
greenery. On to this platform Mr. Thornycroft loves to bring his work, and even
in the garden itself many of his statues are first made. This is another respect in
which he is perhaps unique, yet another evidence of his healthful mind. He knows
that sculpture is essentially an outdoor art that only our English climatic conditions
have forced it to seek shelter under roofs ; and by taking out his work into the open
he fictitiously creates for himself a sort of Greek feeling. He does not see it under
THE SCULPTURE GALLERY.
the artificial effects of light and shade that must haunt even the best built studio.
Here no doubt is the key to the quiet, vigorous character of Mr. Thornycroft's work.
He is fortunate in having a garden to work in ; and the neatness with which it is
tended, the kindliness with which the flowers grow in it, the miraculous absence
of smutty trees and plants, would lead you to believe yourself miles distant from
the grimiest city of the universe. Mr. Thornycroft loves the open air, as he loves
sports and athletic exercises.
From this large studio we enter Mr. Thornycroft's sanctum. It is spacious
thirty-five feet in length and the sloping roof is high ; but being somewhat full it
scarcely gives the idea of its size. Here, too, the walls are tinted the same Pompeian
red. But the principal first impression is that here the workshop element has been
HAMO THORNYCROFT, A.R.A. 69
inmimised until it may be said to bo eliminated. Mr. Thornycroft says that he
does not like the room in which the greater part of his life is spent to be comfortless.
The very water-pot that holds the brush with which the sculptor must sprinkle
his clay to keep it moist, is enclosed in a brass pot of quaint design, being, in fact,
a Breton milk-pail. It is seen in our sketch, on the rug beside the modelling-stand,
which is surmounted by the clay sketch of a monument to a dead father and son
to be erected in Liverpool for the widowed mother. Culture, true culture, not its
teacup semblance, pervades the very air of the room. For while paintings, sketches,
photographs line the walls, a piano occupies the place of honour, and a violoncello
rests against the jamb. Then there is a bookcase, and books are carelessly strewn
around sure tokens that they are kept to be read, not merely looked at. And
examining them we shall see that poetry, and poetry of the best and highest kind,
predominates. Upon the lloor is spread a matting, with here and there an Oriental
nig, forming patches of pleasant colour, another notable feature in Mr. Thornycroft,
and rare in a sculptor, being his line eye for colour. The quaint fireplace, designed
by the artist, encloses a hearth with Early English dogs. And as is fitting, and as
it has been since all ages, that the hearthstone be the guardian of whatever is
sacred to the house-owner, so here Mr. Thornycroft has accumulated his Penates.
On each side the lintel hang photographs of portions of the Elgin marbles, which
Mr. Thornycroft recognises as his chief masters in his art; while over the centre
is a cast of one of the tigers in Professor HaUniel's "Bacchic Procession," so
unfortunately destroyed in the fire that consumed the Dresden Theatre. Over the
fireplace itself are Mr. Thornycroft's favourite antiques, which he places here, as he
expresses it, to keep his eyes fresh, and which enable him, when he lifts them from
his work, "to see how bad it is." It is the period of the Elgin marbles, the highest
type of Greek art, that Mr. Thornycroft loves best ; and it is characteristic of his sense,
his taste, his freedom from conventionality, that the specimens he has chosen to
be his Penates are not those that one would, perhaps, look to see upon his fireplace.
True, a large photograph of the Venus of Milo surmounts the whole altar, as it may
be justly called ; but then it would, indeed, be rank heresy in any artist to exclude
from his work-room the dearest of the antiques. Beneath the Aphrodite stands a
copy of the fine dignified bust known as the Oxford Fragment, probably a Demeter.
And truly it is fitting that the Earth Mother should preside over the hearthstone
of one of her healthy sons. On her one hand is a torso of the Cyreniau Aphrodite,
on the other the so-called " Hera " of Kensington, with her placid, archaic, curiously
thoughtful beauty. The other busts and statuettes all testify to the sculptor's
sympathy with early Greek art.
The many busts and statues that adorn the room are from Mr. Thornycroft's
own hand. Here we see a bronze cast of the original wax sketch of his "Teucer,"
as well as a full-sized bust. Here, too, are the masterly little bronze of an " Athlete
Putting a Stone," and the standing statue of Lord Beaconsfield. Portrait busts, too,
abound in his studio, in too many cases the mere "pot-boilers" of his profession.
70 THE MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
The studio is lighted by a high lancet window, over which, in our sketch, a
blind is drawn. Mr. Thornycroft can, when he desires, also light the room from
above. The unique feature of his studio, and one of which he is specially proud,
is that the wall does not come down flush with the window, but that beyond he
has built for himself an alcove or low outer room, which presents the unspeakable
advantage that, while he can get his work near to the light, he can himself, by
retreating into this outer room, get at a distance from his object, and so have a
good perspective whence to judge it. The alcove is connected with the studio by
a curtain, and opens out on to the garden. On fine days the door stands open,
and a luscious background of greenery is presented to the eye, refreshing and resting,
and combining very gratefully with the white of the sculptures, making them look
less denaturees than at the best they are apt to do in London. The alcove itself
is a delicious little snuggery, used by Mr. Thornycroft as his writing-room : full of
sketches and books, and those silent evidences of culture which the cultured eye is
so quick to detect, so grateful to perceive. Stepping out from it into the garden,
we see that above its low roof is built a balcony, on which on warm evenings Mr.
Thornycroft loves to sit reading or sketching in wax. Beneath, just above the
door to the garden, runs a frieze, or what has become a frieze, for it was merely a
coved cornice of cement which Mr. Thornycroft chose to decorate. While the
cement was wet he sketched in a charming little frieze, representing the story of
the making of a statue. On the extreme left the sculptor gazes ardently into the
fire, whence he draws his first inspiration ; then, seated at the piano, under the
sweet strains of music he matures it, while the outline of the moon shows that
this is night, the time for meditation. The uprising of the sun tells of the dawn of
a new day in which the statue passes from the realms of fancy to those of reality.
The clay sketch is made, the frame constructed, on which the clay is put ; here
is the model sitting, here the casting in plaster, the quarry where the marble is
hewn, and finally the carving of the work out of the nobler material. All the
instruments used in the sculptor's profession are indicated the modelling tool, the
callipers, the spatula, the point, the gradine, even down to the very screw-jack.
Turning the corner, we come upon the sculptor, his work done, enjoying his
recreation : hunting the deer, shooting, fishing, playing lawn tennis, evoking sounds
from his violin.
Ee-entering the conservatory, we pass into what is called the gallery for finished
work, next to Mr. Thornycroft' s private studio the most attractive room in the
house. It is a striking illustration of the air of refinement imparted to a room by
the presence and judicious arrangement of sculpture. Here the place of honour is
given to music, in the shape of a grand piano, and piles of music books He around ;
for here it is that the Thornycrofts assemble of an evening to seek refreshment
and inspiration from the sister art. Here, ainid plants and flowers, stand some of
Mr. Hamo Thornycroft's finest works, some in plaster, some in marble : among
the former his "Artemis," seen in our sketch; among the latter his "Lot's Wife."
HAMO THOUNYCKOFT, A.K.A. 71
Since he finishes most of his sculpture himself, his marble work is particularly
individual. Through the open folding-doors of the gallery we look into a family
sitting-room, chiefly furnished with Mrs. Thornycroft's sculpture, while a door at the
other end conducts us once more into the hall.
Crossing this we enter a cheerful drawing-room, cool and low in colour. A
notahle feature is the fireplace, the tiles that surround the grate being painted with
portraits of the whole family by Miss Helen Thornycroft. The dining-room lias
not this unused air, since man, even artistic man, must eat. A warm-coloured
pleasant room it is, with its long bay window and lead lightings, through which in
the evening are seen the red rays of some of those lovely sunsets for which London
is famous. Here hangs Mr. T. Blake Wirgman's finely-conceived portrait of Mrs.
Thornycroft, representing her as in the act of modelling a clay statue, the
modelling tool in her fingers.
But after we have seen all in detail, what chiefly strikes us and clings in our
memory about Mr. Thornycroft's house is its true artistic beauty and the absence
of modern artistic affectation. Every object seems to fall naturally into its place,
not to have been put there as the result of much study from the desire to be peculiar
and unique. And it is this that makes it, what even the finest houses should be,
essentially a dwelling-house, not a mere repository of beautiful things where comfort
and homelikeness is the last point to be regarded.
(From a Portrait by Jlfcssre. ElliM and Fry.)
JAMES CLARKE HOOK, RA.
RTIST, farmer, and fisherman these three words describe the subject of
this sketch. A public cultivated enough to recognise the honesty, in-
tensity, and thoroughness of Mr. Hook's work with his brush will not
need to be told that the same qualities are displayed by him in every
other pursuit of his life. It will readily credit him with being able to
guide a plough, wield flail, axe, sickle, or scythe, haul on to a rope, shoot
a net, take a turn at the tiller, or pull an oar, much as if his duties in life
had led him to do these things and nothing else. That he is a good seaman,
and knows all about fish, whether from the fresh or salt water, as well as how
to catch them, there can be no doubt. A man who paints fish, flesh, and fowl,
JAMES CLARKE HOOK, It.A.
earth, sea, and sky, as lie does, must be naturalist, botanist, geologist, sailor, and
much beside. Touching further upon the practical side of his character, one might
guess that he would be a competent architect, engineer, shipwright, and carpenter,
and that there is scarcely a tool belonging to any handicraft, of the trick of which
he has not an inkling. There is evidence of all these facts in what he paints, and
in the way he paints. The poetic element of his nature is shown, too, by his
intense appreciation of the open, and the humanity which he puts into his vivid
presentments of the rough and honest folk who live and breathe upon his canvases.
They are no mere studio models, they are tbe people themselves.
It is needless to say that a triumph of power like this has not been the
HOME WITH THE TIDE.
creation of a day, for as far back as the year 1839 we find Mr. Hook's name in
the Academy catalogue. Unlike many lads with a natural bent towards art, ho
met with no opposition from his relatives in his choice of a career, although none
of them in any way had shown a like predilection. His mother was the second
daughter of Dr. Adam Clarke, the Biblical commentator, and his father a member
of a Northumbrian family was one of the judges of the Mixed Commission Court
of Sierra Leone. He, being a man of refined taste, encouraged his son to cultivate
the marked love he had for drawing, and when young Hook left the North Islington
Proprietary School, he studied at the British Museum until he was admitted a
student at the Royal Academy in 1836.
Then only seventeen (for he was born in London, November 21, 1819), he
made such good use of his natural powers and of the curriculum of the Academy,
74 THE MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
that he succeeded in carrying off most of its medals and prizes. After exhibiting
his first picture, " The Hard Task," in 1839, he did not appear again in the
catalogue till 1842, when, besides winning the first medals in the life and painting
schools, he exhibited a portrait. The series of Italian pictures, by which he gained
his early honours, was commenced in 1844, with a subject from the "Decameron;"
and in 1845 he won the gold medal of the Academy for the best original historical
picture, the theme given being the "Finding of the Body of Harold." By his
" Eizpah Watching the Bodies of the Sons of Saul " he secured the travelling
studentship, and in 1846 went to Italy.
Mr. Hook was emancipated from Academy subjects, but he inevitably fell into
bondage to romantic Italy. At that date real Italy had manifestly not been dis-
covered. There she was, indeed, in all her own wilful, inexplicable, workaday
charm ; but the painters did not see her. What they saw was the ready-made
Italy of costume and cavaliers, or of scenic citizens and a dramatic clergy, the
Italy which they took with them from England, which they kept with them
there in a persistent protest against the facts, and which they brought trium-
phantly home again on canvas. To many of them Venice was principally the scene
of Shakespeare's play. To more (and this applies not to artists only but to all
the wandering English) Venice was the city on which Byron made certain stanzas,
and on the shores of whose Lido he used to ride unwonted horses in that "con-
spicuous solitude " (as Mr. Howells has it) which was dear to his heart. Who will
candidly say that Turner's Venice is the city indeed in her habit as she lives ? Mr.
Hook was a young man, and if we may judge of his Venetian work by the titles
of the pictures which are recorded, we may suppose that he did what a young
man often does best followed his leaders. The days of his own "line" were
yet distant. Between 1847 and 1853 we hear of " Bassanio Commenting on .the
Caskets," and " The Defeat of Shylock." Moreover, his Italian sojourn produced
" The Chevalier Bayard Wounded at Brescia." It is curious to find such subjects in
the record of a painter who, when once he discovered the blue seas and green shores
of his own country discovered them as really his own stuck to them with a per-
tinacity hardly ever equalled. But all the preliminaries of a successful career are
in one way or in another effectual. Even time apparently lost enters into the
eternal records of experience ; but Mr. Hook's tentative time was not lost. All
his labour as a student, every stroke with the brush, helped in the education of
a marked and original talent. Nor can any fine artist dispense with the study of
great achievement, even when it is foreign to his own final aims in art. Thus the
painter of English nature landscape and sea was rightly occupied with dwelling on
the Venetian treatment of the figure ; the positive, unluxurious colourist of the future
was doing well in meditating the tints of Titian ; the painter who was to devote him-
self to the fisher-people of England to-day was by no means wasting time in admiring
the saints of Carpaccio. Mind and hand the hand almost always, the mind always
must profit by an artist's love for even the kind of beauty which he renounces.
JAMES CLARKE HOOK, R.A.
As he was elected an Associate in 1850, no doubt could exist that the travelling
Studentship had been bestowed upon the right man, notwithstanding that his Italian
pictures, admirable as they were, failed to establish him at his proper value in the
eye of the general public. It was not until 1854 that Mr. Hook struck into the
path which was to lead him to fame. That year saw the first of what may be
called his English pastorals, and in "A Host by the Wayside" all the world
recognised the stamp of original
genius. Not quite abandoning yet,
however, the sort of theme which
he had hitherto treated, the artist
gave us, in 1855, in conjunc-
tion with the "Birthplace of the
Streamlet," a picture entitled " The
Gratitude of the Mother of Moses,"
the last, probably, he painted \vith
his old feeling. Such titles as
"The Bramble in the Way," "A
Passing Cloud," "Welcome, Bonny
Boat!" are sufficient to record
how, in 1850, he devoted all his
energies to his newly-found line.
How much more fully this was
developed the following year, any
one will recognise who can re-
member that most pathetic work,
" A Widow's Son Going to Sea,"
and the graphic representation of
a group of Clovelly fisher-folk, men,
women, and children, looking out
to sea, and called "A Signal on
the Horizon." These two coast
subjects found their proper context
in the inland scene of the " Ship-boy's Letter," where John Dibble listens, as he
is hedging and ditching, to his wife's reading of the missive just received from
the walking postman. "The Coast Boy Gathering Eggs" was the next great hit
of our painter ; and it is doubtful if, in many respects, he has ever surpassed his
triumph of 1858, at least in a popular sense. For to artistic quality he united a
dramatic incident of a kind to excite public fancy keenly. Few who have regard
to these matters can forget the lad suspended by a rope over the face of one of
the most precipitous of the Lundy Island cliffs. It will be remembered how,
hanging in mid-air, in a fashion that makes one's blood creep, his naked feet
seeming to be feeling for a foothold, he gathers his spoil into a net, which he holds
FKOM UNDEIt Till: SEA.
(l',y I'crmiuion of Mr. C. I'. Mutthtwt.)
THE MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
at the end of a pole. The scared and angry gulls, that " wing the midway air,"
swoop with widespread pinions around him, whilst at a giddy depth below lies the
sea, with its fringe of foam fretting against the cliff's base. In 1859, "Luff,
Boy!" came, the picture which evoked from Mr. Euskin, in the "Academy Notes,"
that he then published annually, the words, "Thank you heartily, Mr. Hook!"
"The Eiver," one of his most suggestive and beautiful inland subjects, the
"Skipper Ashore," and "A Cornish Gift" were also of that same season. The
following year the full honours of the Academy were conferred on our painter, who
immediately more than justified his election by " Whose Bread is on the Waters,"
"Oh, well for the Sailor Lad !" and "Stand Clear!"
Popular opinion was altogether with the Eoyal Academy in their choice of a
"JOLLY AS A SAND-BOY."
new member. The public had made fast friends with Mr. Hook from the clay when
his individuality first made itself evident. Perhaps no painter of our day has had
less to suffer from popular ignorance or indifference, or from Press criticism, or
from the doubt or disapproval of brother painters. Every one has always understood
him sympathetically agreeing with him as to the value of what he aimed at doing,
and enjoying his manner of compassing his end. Blue seas, with a fringe of foam,
sturdy effects of weather, children with hair bleached and faces tanned by the sea-
winds, will always give the average Englishman the moderate pleasure which he
best enjoys ; and the rendering of these things without any artistic mystery, without
any display of purely painter-like ways of seeing that make calls upon the layman's
understanding, has doubtless enhanced the pleasantness for the public. Pleasant
also for the public to find that it is right, that its guides agree with it that, in
short, it is not making one of the big mistakes in the records of artistic popularities.
78 THE MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
Nor lias the sameness of Mr. Hook's subjects ever wearied his admirers. He gives
them what they expect, and there would be a sensible disappointment at any marked
novelty, at any great change of climate even, or at too much shifting of the scene.
Nor do they require from him the sentiment or the story-telling which might be
exacted from another favourite. Mr. Hook has not very often indulged his public
with even an allusion to the tragedies of fisher life. He has contented himself with
the cheerful events of every day as they occur among the unexcitable and undemon-
strative populations of our coasts. And in this he has undoubtedly understood his
own power perfectly. Pictures he has enjoyed in the painting have been thoroughly
enjoyed in the seeing, because the painter has been so uniformly true to his own
genial artistic personality.
To name Mr. Hook's pictures would occupy pages ; but it may be said that
every one showed that he was advancing on the road he had chosen. A few mile-
stones, however, must be noted in his wanderings through Devon and Cornwall to
Scilly, such as "Compassed by the Inviolate Sea," "The Trawlers," and "From
Under the Sea." Brittany for the next two years became the land of the painter's
love, and his increasing power was shown in " Breton Fishermen's Wives," " The
Mackerel Take," and " The Sardine Fleet." Harking north after this, he produced
" The Herring Fishery," on the coast of Banff, and the incidents belonging thereto,
such as " Fishers Clearing their Nets " and " Mother Carey's Chickens." " The
Lobster Catcher," " The Morning After a Gale," and a host of other sea and land-
scape subject?, including "A Cowherd's Mischief" and "Cottagers Making Cider,"
impossible to catalogue here, bring us to 1870, when Holland opened up fresh
ground for our indefatigable artist. The low flat land of flush grey rivers and
red-roofed towns, of windmills and large skies, has become a favourite painting-field
with our English artists, and Mr. Hook was among the first to take his sketch-book
there. A taste for quaintness, which developed strongly in England at the time of
the incorrectly named "Queen Anne" revival, helped the charm of Holland, and
set many a palette with her ruddy and pearly tints. One of Mr. Hook's principal
Dutch pictures in its very title delightfully described the country "Brimming
Holland." " Fish from the Doggerbank " is another work of this time. A trip to
Norway was also productive of fresh, vigorous, and characteristic pictures. Treating
of England again in 1872, the artist produced " Gold from the Sea," and one of
his gayest subjects, "Jolly as a Sand-boy." Every one should be grateful to him for
giving to a cheerful but meaningless proverbial saying so perfectly satisfactory and
exhilarating an elucidation. If Mr. Hook's sand-boys had not illustrated the proverb,
they should have originated it, and been the sand-boys of all time.
In 1875 the subject of one picture was again Dutch, "The Land of Cuyp."
It was that master's land, indeed, but it was the English painter's hand, and curious
are both similarity and difference. The hour is rnilking-time, and the place a
stretch of water and pastures. A man and a girl are at their task with the long,
narrow-necked brass vessels of the country. In the same Academy appeared " Hearts
JAMES CLARKE HOOK, R.A. 79
of Oak," of which the scene is far more familiar a rock-bound coast with foam-
edged waves, and a sailor with his wife and child, brown and strong, sitting on the
shore. Also " The Samphire Gatherer," a girl plying the dizzy labour on steep
cliffs that overhang a deep-toned sea. " Crabbers " appeared, with other canvases,
in 187G. It has what the artist does not often aim at movement and strenuous
action. It takes an important place by its vigour as well as by its size. In the
following year Mr. Hook's fisher-folk were children again, wandering, and at sport.
" Word from the Missing " show them picking up a sealed message from the sea ;
and "A Gull-Catcher" presents the stormy pursuits of a strong little sailor-lad
who is capturing a sea-gull with a line on the windy shore. " He Shot a Fine
Shoot" deals with a calm autumnal day inland, with deep green tields and quiet
farms, the title representing the cheerful local comment on a good hag displayed in
the foreground. Soon after came a most unwonted change to "The ('oral-Fisher,
Amalfi," of which the composition is very pleasing; but Mr. Hook was speedily
welcomed back to " Mushroom Gatherers," a girl and boy on the English sea-coast,
the best of his works in 1879, when he exhibited also a bit of good local industry,
"Tarring Nets." Next we have another charming bit of fisher-child life, mischievously
called " The Nearest Way to School." The nearest way takes the brown-cheeked
urchins irresistibly to the sea-shore, with its always fresh delights. Tn 1H82, also,
the artist was at his best and his most familiar with "Castle-Building," the mouth
of an estuary at low tide, old boats, and children playing the game that will last
as long as man and the sea; and with a "Devon Harvest Cart" and "Caller
Herri n'," m which a basket of fish is painted with wonderful power.
Later comes "After Dinner Uest Awhile," which shows a bird "the hote cor-
meraunt ful of glotony" reposing in the gloomy gravity of digestion. Mr. Hook has
produced, by the way, other admirable birds ; for example, the crow in " Wise Saws,"
which we have not been able precisely to date, but which belongs to about 1875 a
pastoral green landscape rich with grass. " The Close of Day " (188o) with its sunset
"The weary sun hath made a golden set"
is a not common instance of Mr. Hook's choosing the mellower light ot evenings or
low suns, instead of the full effects of day. To the same year belong " Yo, Heave
Ho ! " a subject of action, and " The Stream."
In giving a slight description of these few in an enormous record, we have
necessarily dwelt upon the figures, because their little actions are chiefly describable.
But the figures are almost always accessories, the subjects of the pictures are not
in them. The subject lies in coast and sky and sea, in cloud and wave, in rock
and seaweed, in the greensward of seaside downs, and the hardy growth of cliff-
top flowers, in the salt-eaten colours of old boats and the rust of old tackle, in the
wind coming from indistinct horizons, and the white flecks of breakers.
G. H. BOUGHTON, A.R.A.
MEEICAN artists seem to be divided even more sharply than the English
into the two camps of old and new. Their differences are extreme
the bygone work being perhaps even more inartificial and inelegant,
and that which is educated being more expert and complete, than the
corresponding achievements of Englishmen. It is a truism to say that this
excellence of the younger American school is due to Erench influences ;
and the prevalence of these influences in America is doubtless to be explained by
0. H. HOUGHTON, A.K.A. 81
the absence from the New World of tluit medievalism which has divided the
young forces of English talent. Half our capable men are studying, directly or
indirectly, in Continental schools, and half are devoted to the study of antique
forms. Among the Transatlantic students there is no such separation; all the
promise of the country is directed by Paris and Munich, with the consequence that
the Anglo-Saxon characteristics are much more thoroughly rooted out of artistic
America than they are out of artistic England. On the other hand, the fact that
old-fashioned America is somewhat more hopeless than old-fashioned England is
due, of course, to what has been, until comparatively late years, the great separate-
ness of the New World.
We hardly know how to place Mr. Houghton in the matter of nationality, as
he is claimed by America on the ground of education and curly residence alone.
By the accident of birth, indeed, he is English ; but the young nation of which
he is generally considered a citixeu adopts the illustrious strangers who harbour
in her ports, and, as a rule, is chosen by them for their mother as decisively as
they are by her adopted for her sons. However this may be with Mr. Boughton,
he is in his art distinctively an American under foreign influences. Something of
England has, indeed, found its way into his subjects; for his pencil lias dealt with
the old pilgrims of Chaucer, with the gallants and damsels of our last century,
and with the spring copses, the green pastures, and the grey weather of England
in all times. But in execution he is distinguished by a certain charm and elegance
which we are constrained to consider rare amongst ourselves. For, however exquisite
an Englishman's conception, however excellent his drawing or fine his colour, he
seldom has that charm of touch which is in itself and quite apart from the grace-
fulness or ungracefulness of the object treated distinctly graceful. Whatever be Mr.
Boughton's exact nationality, therefore, we may consider him, in respect of art, as
prominent in the progressive school of America. Not in the most progressive school,
however. That, in the States, is in the hands of painters who practise more or less
" impressionist " principles with extraordinary vividness and swiftness of vision.
Mr. Boughton is always deliberate, and has grown more so perhaps of late years ;
he aims at the collection of facts rather than at the record of an effect, and his
charming skill of hand has the modest appearance of carefulness, whereas the
impressionist's touch, with an equal skill, has the look of triumph and virtuosity.
Mr. Sargent is the type and leader of those American painters whom we must style,
for want of a better word, more "advanced" than the rest of their countrymen.
Mr. Boughton's career is English ; for though it began in America, his mature
work has been for years past an attraction in our lloyal Academy. He was born
in 1834, and became an American at three years old, when he was taken to live
at Albany, in the State of New York. His first studies were masterless, hut it
was not long before liis progress received the stimulus and impetus which a first
sale gives, and which nothing else can give so well. The artist is generally all the
truer to his art because it is his profession also ; and to a profession the test of
THE MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
success which is supplied by the decisions of a market is all-important. At nine-
teen Mr. Boughton sold one of his first works to the American Art Union, and
" GHEEN LEAVES AMONG THE SERE."
(By Permission of A. P. Dixon, Esq.)
spent the money on a visit to London a visit of which the aim was altogether
artistic. Returning to America, he worked for two years in New York, and
exhibited at the National Academy, his first picture there being " Winter Twilight,"
Q. IT. BOUGHTON, A.U.A.
painted in 1857. A course of diligent work in the studios of Paris followed, and
in 1861 the young artist came again to London, where lie finally settled, and where
he has ever since had his home.
His first marked success was won hy his "Passing into the Shade," exhibited
in 1863 at the British Institution, a gallery which was in those days the " nursery
of young reputations." The artist's youth is expressed in the rather facile sen-
timentality of the title a sentimentality which was doubtless much prized hy the
A DUTCH SF.t-slUK KESOHT DIRCfSHNO THE NEW AKIllVAI*.
public of the time. " Passing into the Shade " refers to the action of a figure
a woman whose life is declining and who is walking out of sunshine into a space
of shadow. Here was something to please the good public, who have always hailed
any form of easy allegory with a satisfaction amounting to delight. It must be
supposed that the mild ingenuity of the average mind is flattered at its own success
in discovering that the "Twilight Closing in" and the "Ebbing Tide," which still
figure pretty frequently in our catalogues, are words that bear a double meaning,
and refer to the approaching end of some inevitable old man or old woman. In
like manner Goethe's "More Light," uttered when his dying eyes were dim, has
always filled the general breast with a peculiar pleasure. Mr. Boughtou's later
84 THE MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
work has been altogether free from this sort of thing ; the human interest of the
figures which he combines with his finely-studied landscapes does not often depend
on such cheap allusiveness, but is candid and direct. Besides its popular success,
"Passing into the Shade" won more important praise upon technical grounds; and
at the Eoyal Academy, in the same year, "Through the Fields" and "Hop-Pickers
Returning " attracted considerable attention. Most of the artist's subjects, then
and since, have belonged to peasant life, and have dealt with that " pathos of
labour " of which it is possible to hear too much, and which needs as much reserve
as sincerity in the treatment. The best things and assuredly the pathos of labour
is one of the best things in the world are liable to be spoilt, not by repetition,
but by the insincerity, the ready-made feeling, which much repetition generally
implies. Mr. Boughton has painted his peasants with a reserve which is the best
preservative against this cheapening of good subjects and good thoughts ; as a rule
he avoids emotions, painting even a painful subject, such as his " Bearers of the
Burden," witli as little indulgence in explicit sentiment as is shown by a French
writer of the realistic school. It may be added that he carries this reserve of feeling
into other matters. For instance, although he has now and then shown with how
great charm he can paint the light and colour of a lucid blue sky and the gold of
low siinshine, ho generally refrains from colour and bright weather, choosing rather
to work subtly within the narrow limits of grey effects. He apparently considers that
the placing together of pleasant tints is not to be the chief aim of the colourist,
but that there are tilings to be achieved more delicate and difficult, if less obvious.
From the time of his beginning, in 18G3, there has been no year in which the
Koyal Academy has not had pictures from his hand ; and the National Academy
of New York, the Grosvenor Gallery here, and the various Internationals which
have taken place in twenty years, have all had him for a contributor. In fact, the
record of his canvases shown in any one institution alone is altogether inadeqiiate
to commemorate the sum of his work. English readers, however, will have associa-
tions principally with the following titles, all of pictures exhibited at the Academy.
In 1864 appeared "The Interminable Story," and "Industry;" in 1867, "Early
Puritans of New England;" in 1868, a "Breton Pastoral;" in 1870, "The Age
of Gallantry " a bit of last-century life treated with elegant humour and set in a
pleasing effect of silvery haze; and in 1871, "Colder than Snow," and "A Chapter
from Pamela." In 1873, "The Heir Presumptive" was exhibited; and in 1874,
"The Canterbury Pilgrims," a delightful picture of Chaucer and Spring and Mr.
Aubrey de Yere tells us that "Chaucer is Spring;" in 1875, "Grey Days," and
"Bearers of the Burden;" in 1876, a portrait of Master Graham Pettie, the son
of the Academician, in Seventeenth Century costume, and "A Surrey Pastoral," a
twilight scene, ascetically and dimly coloured, with a faint rising moon, and gleaners
going home across a brook; in 1877, "Homeward," and "Snow in Spring;" in
1878, "The Waning of the Honeymoon," and "Green Leaves Among the Sere;"
in 1879, "Priscilla" a snow scene, with the profile figure of the damsel, closely
86 THE MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
clad and thickly shod, hurrying to " meeting," and "A Eesting-Place ; " and, in the
following year, " Evangeline."
Among Mr. Boughton's Grosvcnor pictures may be mentioned " The Widow's
Acre," a sea-side field in which two grave and hard-faced women (probably widowed by
the sea) are digging; and "Eivals," two navvies hewing at a stone-quarry, in presence
of a pretty woman, whom each is anxious to impress Avith the superiority of his
strength a quiet study of the elementary passions. To the Philadelphia Centennial
Exhibition Mr. Boughton's contributions were neither few nor unimportant ; and at
the Paris International Exhibition of 1878 he was represented by "Snow in Spring"
a group of girls, surprised by a light fall of snow-flakes, among the primroses in a
budding wood, covering their heads and tacking their dresses away from the unexpected
shower; "Bearers of the Burden," a gang of English tramps upon the highway, the
patient women being heavily laden, while the men fare on before ; and the " Surrey
Pastoral." In "Bearers of the Burden" Mr. Boughton has probably intended a
gallant American protest against the overloading of women while men slouch at their
ease. The thing is certainly seen in England, but it is seen in a grosser form in
every other country in Europe. As to America, it may be that feminine shoulders
there are not so much bent to field-labour ; but we believe that the rustic wife in the
States, with her Puritanically loveless life, and the incessant indoor work entailed by
her very prosperity, and the oppression of her spiritual experiences, bears a burden
hardly tolerable, compared with which the English "rough's" baby, and his bundle,
and even the occasional weight of his fist, are not the worst things in the world.
It was in 1881 that the Academy contained the first of the series of Dutch
pictures with which Mr. Boughton has thrown freshness into his own subjects, and
helped to open a new 'and delightful field to English art. " Scheveningen, Holland,"
shows a group of fisher-folk on the beach of the watering-place of which the Dutch
are so proud the men apart, the women trudging together from their work at the
boats. "A Dead City of the Zuyder Zee" is a charming prospect of the old town
of Hoorn, left by the tide of commerce and activity, quiet in its flat lands, with
its stiff avenues of trees and its unexcited population. With these were exhibited
"Kitty," a portrait, and "Hester Prynne." Then came "The Burgomaster's
Daughter," a fair and prosperous young citizeness of consideration, in skating
costume of the seventeenth century ; her green embroidered dress and cap are
relieved against a snow background, her furs are warmly clasped round her throat
and foster her gloved hands. " Muiden, North Holland : an Exchange of Compli-
ments," is a pretty passage of the gayer old town life. But the most charming of
these scenes from Holland is undoubtedly " The Peacemaker," with its mingling of
quaint beauty and unforced humour. The landscape is flat, with the complete
Dutch flatness, all the delicate little features telling against the pale horizon.
Geese are strolling, feeding, holding forth with heads aloft. A comfortable Dutch
couple have had a misunderstanding, of sufficient gravity and persistence to call
for the good offices of the Pastor, who is reasoning away the pout of the pretty wife.
G. H. BOUGHTON, A.R.A. 87
True Dutchwoman as she is, she 1ms never laid aside her stocking. She knitted
her quarrel into it, and will knit it out again. The figure of the goodmau, who
has taken his own grievance away to a dignified distance, is exceedingly comic,
not only owing to the expressiveness of his hack, hut because of the local fashion of
his clothing, which evidently aims at achieving the greatest breadth and the most
liberal bagginess possible to human garments. An offended, a serious, a not im-
placable husband -he carries within that ample shirt a heart which is willing to
come to terms, but which must be properly solicited.
" A Dutch Seaside llesort : Discussing the New Arrivals," is a record of
contemporary Scheveningen life, in which Mr. Boughton's graceful hand has
dealt with rough character without marring its roughness, and with the English
traveller without caricature. His group of natives, by the way, arc discussing the
new arrivals with an interest which is mild compared with that which, in fact, the
Dutch are good enough to bestow on their visitors. The foreigner remembers them
as the most curious of European people ; they watch him literally open-inouthed.
Why a race renowned for stolidity should be so given over to inquisitiveness and
astonishment it would be hard to say. But these reach such a pitch that in a town
well accustomed to tourists, the ingenuous inhabitants will call one another down
from higher floors and out from inner rooms, and will help the halt and the feeble
quickly round the corners of streets, to help in staring at a traveller, guiltless, as
far as he can tell, of any eccentricity of appearance. Of course, if an Englishman
will insist upon raising a neighbourhood by the exhibition of a pnyyarcc', insular
oddity must be blamed ; but we are leaving such cases out. With the " Seaside
Resort " appeared at the Academy a bit of England "St. Ives Bay, Cornwall."
One of Mr. Boughton's principal pictures in 1882 was " The Weeders of the
Pavement," a scene very striking in its space, simplicity, and suggestiveness. Here
again is a " dead city of the Zuyder Zee ; " and on its quays, once busy, the grass
has forced its green growth between the neatly-laid stones. But Dutch eyes will
not endure the grass ; the harbour may be filled up with sand, and the shallow
water without ships, and the quay be useless, but it shall at least be tidy ; and
while a little gang of round-armed women are set to the work of weeding, the old
harbour-master in white trousers stands and watches them, soothing his own long
leisure and the leisure of his dog. The women's figures are admirably posed and
drawn. The distances, with their grey levels of sky and water, are sad rather than
sweet. Perhaps Mr. Boughton has never more resolutely avoided the temptation
to charm of light or colour. In the same Grosvenor exhibition as the "Weeders"
was "An Autumnal Kamble by the Spey," an upright landscape, with one tall
figure in black standing by the river the portrait of Mrs. Priestley.
In 1885 Mr. Boughton chose a subject of historical incident, which hardly suits
his powers so well as do passages of familiar life ancient or contemporary, English
or foreign treated with his own unfamiliar delicacy. " Milton Visited by Andrew
Marvell," the painter's chief Academy picture of that year, has great beauties of
THE MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
composition, and refinement of draughtsmanship. The coming of Marvell expresses
a certain reverence
"When I beheld the Poet, blind yet bold"
and there is a propriety of action, or non-action, in the whole group of eight
G. II. BOUGHTON, A.R.A. 89
figures. Nevertheless, the picture is indefinably dull and deliberate. Nor do we
quite forgive the old lady who is appearing through the doorway with refreshment
for the poets.
Mr. Boughton has always mingled figure-painting and landscape with such
unusual impartiality that he takes an equal place among the painters of nature and
of men. Of the human interest of his works we have already spoken ; his attention,
we may add, has been divided among several aspects of life and manners, to all
of which there is common a certain touch of quaintness. Whether he is painting
that young gentleman of " The Age of Gallantry," who is wading up to his
breeched knees into a pond to capture a water-lily for "the fair," who have in-
cautiously admired it, or the Puritan maiden on her way to chapel, or the square
Dutch wives upon the Scheveningen beach, he seeks always this quaint character.
He paints women far oftener than men. So far as we remember, by the way, the
taste for the oddities of the First Empire, for short-waisted costumes and poke
bonnets, is altogether due to him. But if his subjects are so often feminine, his
manner is never effeminate ; and although he seldom treats the male figure, he can
draw it vigorously and well.
As to Mr. Boughton's place as a landscape-painter, it is distinct enough. Land-
scape artists may be roughly divided into three classes painters of the forest,
painters of the field, and painters of the garden. The first take Nature as she is
apart from the uses and pleasures of man ; the second study her in her subjection
to his labour and to his necessities, and in the lovely vicissitudes of the cycles of
the harvest ; and the third deal with her (whether they actually paint gardens or
not) as altogether subject to man's artifices and subservient to his luxuries. Mr.
Boughton's landscapes are never of the forest and mountain order ; they are some-
times landscapes of the field, and sometimes of the garden. In the first case his
work, though it deals with the realities of the fields, and does so, as we have said,
with seriousness, does not attempt the homespun tragedy of Israels ; in the latter
case his comedy is always refined and intelligent. " The Waning of the Honey-
moon," for instance a picture of the garden class has a delicate humour of tbe
most unmistakable but least impertinent kind. The happy pair are grievously
bored, but there is a grace in their weariness, and in our mildly cynical moments
we are pleased to watch them, although the fervour and sweetness of such a picture
as Sir Frederick Leighton's "Wedded" will be more welcome in our more serious
Mr. Boughtou's studies of Puritan New England have, naturally enough, been
much appreciated in America, where most of his pictures treating of this subject
have found their permanent homes. Engravings of them will be all the more
welcome to English readers on this account ; and we may allow ourselves a few further
remarks concerning those which in this volume are reproduced. The original of
one of these is an ideal portrait of Longfellow's Rose Standish, the predecessor of
that Priscilla whom Miles Staudish loved of Priscilla, the most charming of old-
THE MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
world New England heroines, a kind of Mayflower Dolly Varden. It is a very
graceful presentment of what is pretty and quaint and idyllic in the romance of
American Puritanism, which is mainly a romance of spiritual agony, and the remorse
that comes of sin, and the horror of
the powers of Air, and in which the
main elements are grim intensity, and
passion, and dread. In the lovely
"Evangeline" of Mr. Boughton, the
realism of costume and character will
be somewhat new to those readers of
Longfellow who have been accustomed
to look at the heroic and ideal aspect
of his peasant heroine's character. Mr.
Boughton's type, however, if homely,
is noble also. The broad throat and
small head, and beautiful firm features,
suggest old and pure rustic blood ; and
there is in the girl's expression some-
thing which implies, potentially at
least, her future sorrow and constancy.
Not the figure only, but the landscape
background of a seaside cornfield, the
breezy sea, and the cliffs and sky, are
full of the charming and sympathetic
work which belongs to this artist's
pencil. Also illustrating a national
author is the " Hester Prynne," a pas-
sage in the penitential life of Haw-
thorne's unhappy heroine. The New
England ground is heaped with snow ;
it is a time of pestilence, and a woman
and child, muffling their breath for fear
of infection, are hurrying past the
corner of a stricken house. But she
whose life is under the perpetual con-
demnation of shame and fear Hester,
with her letter on her breast stands knocking at the abandoned door, bringing the
succour of food and tendance.
To 1886 belong two sprightlier canvases, Mr. Boughton drawing for his subjects
from Washington Irving's famous " Knickerbocker History of New York." Here
there is a certain crowding of figures ; whereas the merits of this painter's drawing
of the figure are best seen with a certain surrounding of atmosphere. One of these
0. H. BOUGHTON, A.R.A.
pleasant pictures treats of the "Councillors of Peter the Headstrong." Wo read
that "During the absence of Peter at the wars, he heard that his Council at New
Amsterdam were talking sedition. He sent home his walking-staff to bo laid on
the table near his chair of state.
It had the desired effect." Mr.
Boaghton renders with humour the
good behaviour of the Assembly in
presence of the representative walk-
ing-stick. On another canvas we
see how the citizens took an edict
against the smoking of tobacco.
" Omnia Yiucit Amor "a com-
position in which quaiutness may
be said to be carried to an archaic
point takes us away again from
the poets of New England ; a youth
of too tender years is playing and
singing in a wood to a little girl of
very low degree indeed, who receives
the homage with, it must be owned,
a rather savage expression. In the
" Heir Presumptive " the interest
is one of feeling. It presents a
beautiful autumnal landscape, ani-
mated by last-century figures which
harmonise in a manner felt at once,
but not easily explained, with the
pathos of the chilly but gentle
weather, the park trees touched
with frost, the leaves swept together
for burning, and the distances, open-
ing out in the manner familiar in
autumn. Along the park pathway
walks a lady with her little son.
Both are evidently in mourning ;
so is the servant, who follows lead-
ing the boy's pony. An old labourer
on the estate, standing by a young tree planted for the child's future, doffs his cap.
The situation, by the way, hardly explains the title. Why heir presumptive, when
the little minor is obviously the heir apparent, if not the owner? Throughout the
picture the drawing is very beautiful in the figures, especially that of the old man,
and in the boughs and trunks and twigs of the trees. And the painter has made
92 THE MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
his picture express transitory life. The old man, and the grave widow, and the
little lord, and the serving-man are as grass of the field, and drifting away like the
leaves in their fall and flight.
In "A Besting- Place " we have an excellently composed company of tramps
resting under a tree by the wayside. To give an interest to the modern English
life of the roads and streets is not altogether an easy matter. We are all familiar
with the peasant of fictitious art ; indeed, truth compels us to own that we are
somewhat tired of him. On the other hand, many of the phases of contemporary
agricultural life might hardly be supposed to bear reproduction in any emphatic or
insistent manner. Nevertheless, it is rather by sincerity than even by judicious
selection or desirable omission that art must treat such phases, and render them both
sympathetic and interesting. In " A Kesting-Place," Mr. Bonghton has softened
little or nothing, and yet his group of tired tramps is excessively poetical, with a
far more intimate and real poetry than any facile idealisation of the facts could
possibly have produced. The figure of the young "rough" to the left contains in
type, character, and costume the most hazardous realism of the picture, but the
elegance of hand with which Mr. Boughtou draws even inelegant forms, without
falsifying them, redeems the passage from so much as a hint of vulgarism. The
women are far nobler in type, and are nobly treated. The perfectly unconscious
and unaffected expression of melancholy and weariness is given with fine appreciation.
In addition to this gravity of sentiment must be noted the graceful, firm, and scientific
drawing of the forms, the charm of touch with which the vegetation is treated, and
the tender beauty of the landscape passage, with its reticent suggestions of life and
colour. Our last illustration gives "A Field Handmaiden" of Brabant, the strong
girl who earns her bread by daily toil on a thrifty farm, where every yard of land
bears its close but fragmentary crop hay, wheat, or vegetable and where the man,
the woman, and the child, turn every moment to profit. The painter has made a
vigorous study of a vigorous figure, showing the weight of the burden in the
tension and energy of the action. It is strange how seldom even good painters do
this satisfactorily. They give too often the pose of carrying but not the effort.
We may, of course, assume that when Eaphael made his heavenly Madonna of San
Sisto stand so unburdened by the weight of the large strong Bambino on her arm,
he committed the anomaly of set purpose, having regard to an heroic treatment of
the group, though even here modern realistic feeling would, rightly or wrongly,
recognise a greatness and nobility in the truth of nature, even if that truth strained
the tender arms and weighted the shoulder of the most spiritual of Virgins. Cer-
tainly the damsel who carries Mr. Boughton's basket of cabbages has every muscle
honestly and thoroughly stretched to the work.
Mr. Boughton has a refined, gay, and pleasant American pen, as well as the
pencil so well known by its work. He writes in the slight and easy fugitive
manner which does not lay claim to authorship, but he never writes emptily, never
even trivially, for the words are prompted by the painter's observation, by a kind
A FIELD HANDMAIDEN: BHAUANT.
94 THE MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
of pictorial habit of mind, and by a witty intelligence peculiarly national. He wrote
first, as lie himself tells ns in his "Sketching Eambles in Holland," by an accident.
Mr. Abbey had invited him to wander over the then "untrodden ways" of the less
frequented tracts of the peaceful Dutch country. The two artists were to form a
travelling party with " a writer of charming sketches of travel," and author and
artists had purposed to produce together a little book on Holland. But the writing
member failed to keep rendezvous. He did not present himself at the start, and
the others strolled on without him. "As they meandered on through the placid,
dreamy lowland landscapes of Cuyp and Ruysdael, even into far north Holland,
never did they descry on the horizon's farthest verge a single bright speck that
told the coming of the mislaid author." Sketches, however, had accumulated, and
the travellers at length had " the unblushing humility which suggests that, after
all, such writing as need be done we might attempt ourselves." What the world
has lost from the going astray of the writing traveller we cannot tell ; but the
sketching travellers wrote delightfully. They drew the admirable old architecture
of the country such examples as the Town Hall at Veere, for instance and the
boats and the broad-backed men, and the women with their horned head-dresses
and gold plates over their hair, and the flaxen-headed children, the animals, and the
ducks. And for literature they give us excellent bits of local character and their
own light-hearted ideas about the country. Quitting the fields of Holland with a
kindlier farewell than Voltaire's, they express their wish that they could buy a few
spare Swiss mountains, and have them ground up and distributed about over the
land to raise it a few feet more out of the water. Moreover, they are careful, on
going on board their steamer, to conscientiously scrape their boots, so as not to
carry off a single ounce of scant Dutch soil to a land not in need of it.
Among Mr. Boughton's literary essays should be remembered " William
Grobbyns," written for Harper's Magazine. William himself was an old labourer,
from whom the artist received an astonishing revelation of the family history one
September morning, on the crest of a breezy down in the south of Surrey. The
place and the man are given with singular charm : " It was almost enough delight
to breathe with healthful lungs the delicious air, to simply exist in it, without work
or play. There seemed to be no urgent need to sketch, fish, shoot, or be shot at,
or even to asphyxiate the lightsome and unwitting insect. However, guiltless as I
almost blush to own I was of any thirst for blood on that particular morning, I
am bound to admit that I almost became the ' sport ' of the rampant free-shooter
once or twice during my wanderings. I was first of all the butt of his ridicule
because I chose to sketch rather than kill or maim anything or anybody. I
would not even accept the loan of a most lithesome rod and a gaudy book of flies
that looked almost as ' fetching ' as a brand-new box of moist colours to a giddy
art-student." Mr. Boughton took with him on his walk " a thin, wiry bull-terrier
for company (and so that I might use the more modest plural now and then)," and
he tells us what "they" saw in near detail and distant view in a manner which
Q. H. BOUGHTON, A.R.A. 95
makes the reader wish that artists and bull-terriers would oftener take the
descriptive writer's work out of his hands. In the course of his ramble Mr.
Boughton conies iipou the fagot-cutter, whose billhook keeps time to snatches of
a crooning old song about " Coopid's Garden," " when not interrupted by a cough so
' hacking ' that the poor old soul could almost have chopped the ' fuzz ' bushes
with it." Of course the artist sketches the old man, and the exquisitely perceived
signs of character and h;ibit in him are rendered with pen and pencil.
Mr. Boughton's house, on the top of Campden Hill, Kensington, is of yellow brick
and red tiles, the tiles, which almost face the house, being of an unusually good
colour, and the arrangement very happy. It is a house without even such small
pretension to town stateliuess as our domestic architecture that pleasant Tudor,
with Victorian modifications, which we choose to call " Queen Anno " ever makes.
It has a country-like, almost a farm-house-like feeling, combined with a quaint
refinement ; and, as regards its interior, it is pervaded with quiet and subtle colour,
rather higher in tone and warmer in tint than the usual colour of Morris furniture.
The effects are distinctively English effects of textile fabrics and opaque surfaces
rather than of marble and polish and the graceful perspectives of the ground-lloor
rooms are caught between ample and abundant curtains, folded back with great
regard to form and line. One of the gems of the house is a little rntrcnol room,
delicately coloured with various touches of straw-colour, amongst others, and having
a beautifully designed frieze of upright daffodils, or jonquils. Mr. Boughton's studio
is a very unaffected work-room, lined and decorated, but by no means hampered,
with beautiful things, and the bric-a-brac which an artist knows how to choose on
(From a Photograph by Mr. Albert E. FrailcUe.)
KEELEY HALSWELLE, A.R.S.A.
|VEN to that large class of the public who visit picture exhibitions more
with a view of looking at people than at pictures, that is, at the world
of dress and fashion, rather than at the world of art, the name of
Keeley Halswelle may possibly be associated with certain magnificent
landscapes of recent date ; for by means of these noble productions the
artist has riveted the attention even of those persons who might be *
supposed to care little for the beauties of natural scenery or rare and sublime
atmospheric effects. Thus he has somewhat suddenly greatly enlarged the circle
of his admirers, and sprung into a popularity very extended in its range. The
most casual observer, if he allowed his eyes to wander at all over the walls of the
Eoyal Academy or the Grosvenor Gallery during the season of 1880, must have
KEKLEY HALSWELLE, A. U.S. A. 97
been struck by the power and beauty, for example, of two works bearing respectively
the titles of "Flood on the Thames" and "Tug and Timber-Barge." Since then,
"all sorts and conditions of men" have bestowed their admiration upon "The
Silvery Thames," "Feu-laud," "After Rain," and the many scenic pictures which
have represented Mr. Keeley Halswelle's labours in tho years that have just passed by.
That other and less numerous class of the public, however, which studiously
follows the progress of art in England, and which watches with cultivated judgment
the upward steps of artists of promise, has lung ago known Mr. Keeley Halswelle.
By discerning onlookers he has been recognised in England for the last ten or
twelve years as a high-class figure-painter, and amongst his brother artists for a
much longer period he has been ranked as conspicuous among coming men. But
somehow he does uot seem to have caught the universal eye of the public, or to
have held it very persistently, until he appeared in the to some, unexpected-
character of a skilled paysagiste. Those to whom this change of front on his part
seemed sudden and surprising, and who had looked on him solely as a coining rival
to such painters as John Phillip, Edwin Long, John Burgess, and the like, have,
however, only to go yet a little farther back into his history to learn that this
manifestation of a vast capacity for dealing with landscape pure and simple is but
a return to his old and earliest love. This is no doubt chiefly due to a protracted
residence in Edinburgh, where a great part of his early artistic life was spent, the
results of which did not travel south for some considerable time. But since he was
born at Richmond, in Surrey, in 1832, it will be seen that Keeley Halswelle was
cradled and brought up, as it were, in the very midst of the scenery in which he
delights, and the various phases of which he is portraying now, in his maturity, with
consummate force and skill. It is not wonderful, therefore, that such favourable
surroundings in early life should have fostered the intuitive feeling and affection for
landscape with which he is obviously endowed. No more happy combination of
circumstances, nor any more likely to lead to happy results, could be looked for than
for a born landscape-painter to first see the light amidst the sylvan beauties of the
river. We are told that when quite a boy he showed the keenest appreciation of
and feeling for natural scenery, and every moment that he could steal from his
studies was devoted to drawing and sketching. Raids were made after the
picturesque in all directions on the banks of " the silvery Thames," and thus the
foundation was laid for that love of the river which has stood him in such good
stead, and which he is developing with such marked success.
Nevertheless, like many another young aspirant to artistic honours, he met
with the reverse of encouragement from his family; but as he persisted in his deter-
mination to become an artist, a half-hearted concession was made to his desires by
a post being found for him in an architect's office. The drudgery of the work there
albeit of ultimate benefit to him, as he must have found when turning his attention
to the architecture of Venice and Rome was not congenial to him at the time,
and we may suppose that it was in obedience to some resistance on his part that
THE MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
he was finally placed under the guidance of an ahle engraver, and permitted to
pursue his studies at the British Museum. Finding employment subsequently, as a
wood draughtsman, on The Illustrated London News and other pictorial publications,
he was enabled to keep afloat, and by degrees to strike out for himself until the
crest of the wave was reached that wave which is now rapidly bearing him forward
upon the flood-tide of no ordinary prosperity. Destiny, however, taking him to
Edinburgh about the year 1854, he discovered in the Scottish capital a wider field
for the versatility of his talents ; and, through a happy introduction to Robert
Chambers and William Nelson, he was soon occupied in illustrating very many of
TUG AND TIMHF.U-BAROE.
their most important publications notably the poems of Robert Herrick, and
" Chambers's Illustrated Shakespeare." Thus it came to pass that he settled in the
" Modern Athens " for something like ten years, during which period he availed
himself to the utmost not only of the picturesque beauty of the city and its environs,
by which, as a landscapist, he would be naturally fascinated, but of the advantages
which the Royal Scottish Academy offered him for study. He entered himself as a
student, and in due time began to exhibit at the annual exhibitions of the institution.
It was in 1857 with a picture called "In Vino Veritas " that our artist made his
debut as a painter, following it up in successive years with "The Bridge of Sighs"
(a work which gained him considerable renown) and very many highly-commendable
efforts, the themes of which were for the most part taken from the fisher-life of
KEELEY HALSWELLE, A.R.S.A. 99
the neighbouring Newhaven. Later on he exhibited subjects very varied in their
character, as may be judged by a glance at the titles of one season's contributions
alone. In 1866 he was elected an Associate of the Eoyal Scottish Academy, and
the next year we find against his name the following: "A Message from the
Sea;" "Jack Cade's Rabblement ; " "Summer Moonlight;" "Whistle, and I'll
come to you, my Lad;" "The Burgomaster;" certain portraits and other works-
no mean or monotonous contingent, surely, for a single brush to supply ! Nor does
this list represent all his labours, for it was in the spring of the same year (1807)
that he made his first appearance at the London Royal Academy with one of his
Newhaven subjects, although ho had been worthily though unimportantly represented
in the Southern metropolis prior to this by a drawing called " A Child's Dream,"
which found a place in the International Exhibition of 18(>
It was the result of a visit to Rome made in 18(58, however, which first caught
the attention of the London cognoscenti. The opening of the new rooms of the
Royal Academy at Burlington House, in 1869, was marked by many pictorial novelties,
chief amongst these being Mr. Halswelle's " Roba di Roma." This picture, besides
receiving warm approval in London, gained for its painter in the subsequent autumn
a prize of 50 as the best work exhibited at the Royal Institution, Manchester. It
was also the beginning of that scries of canvases which has established his reputation
as a gifted painter, destined worthily to share the laurels worn by those of his
predecessors and contemporaries who have sought their inspirations in the South.
And this somewhat conventional manner of describing his success comes readily to
the pen as in a certain harmony with the character of the work. Mr. Halswelle
was decidedly not a realist. In fact, when he painted his Romans realism was not
in the English school. Some French painters had begun to see the Italians as
they were ; but it was still in a manner obligatory upon the Englishman to make-
believe a great deal. He would hardly permit himself to see the really characteristic
beauty of an Italian face, with the eyes set far apart and the short sculpturesque
chin, for he was bound to a tradition of oval outlines, and, above all, of largo eyes
and little mouths remains of the ideals of the Books of Beauty, produced before
photography had performed its one serious service in correcting insipid popular
extravagances in regard to the human face. And the English painter, moreover,
would hardly have been forgiven if he had not dressed his Italian woman with a
level disregard of local habits and of the change of peasant fashions in the thick
striped apron and white sleeves and tovnglia of the tourist's dream. It must be
owned that Mr. Keeley Halswelle carried onward the tradition with even more than
the usual resolution of English art. His contadini and contadine are all and more
than all that custom exacted in that day. And the conventionality of type, of attitude,
and of costume, gave an inevitable effect of graceful commonplace which did a real
injustice to the painter's thoroughness of work and grandeur of composition. If he
fell into the common painter's trick of pretending that the costume models whom
he hired on the steps of the Trinita de' Monti were the population of the Roman
100 THE MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
streets, there was no trick in the way in which his brush dealt with them. And
his was a very venial error in a young painter. On second thoughts he may find
out the greater nobility of simple truth, and the less obvious but stronger charm of
Italy as she is. It is perhaps worth while to say that we are quite aware that even
now the sheepskin and the pastoral pipe and the folded tovaglia may be seen in St.
Peter's itself upon occasions. At the Midsummer Festival and at Easter, and some-
times at Christmas, there come into Rome a little band of pilgrims thus clad ; they
come and go, absorbed in their devotions small, remote, mountain people, as unlike
the grand groups of the painter's canvas as the curious and touching Real can be
to the complacent Ideal learnt by heart. As we have said, however, Mr. Keeley
Halswelle's " Roba " was rendered in a manner that took the art-world somewhat
by surprise, and the effective subject helped the effectual work. Quite alive, pro-
bably, to this fact, the artist next produced in the following rotation eight pictures
pitched more or less in the same or a similar key to that of "Roba di Roma:"
In 1870, "A Scene at the Theatre of Marcellus, Rome;" in 1871, " Contadini
in St. Peter's, Rome;" in 1872, "The Elevation of the Host," and "St. Mark's,
Venice;" in 1873, "II Madonnajo, an Image-seller of the Kingdom of Naples;"
in 1874, "A Roman Fruit Girl," and "Under the Lion of St. Mark;" and in 1875,
" Lo Sposalizio : Bringing Home the Bride." This last canvas, it was affirmed,
exceeded anything which had yet appeared from Halswelle's brush.
That Mr. Keeley Halswelle was not afraid of conventionality, or the name of
it, is shown by his next choice of a subject " Non Angli sed Augeli " of which it
may be said that it had ceased to be hackneyed had been given up as a subject,
but retained as a byword. It was this scene from English history, we believe,
which Gandish exhibited to Colonel Newcome and his son, what time Clive was
entering upon his career at the worthy professor's school of art. And even then
the angels, gallantly recognised by the Colonel, had grown quite mature, and
objected to have the date of the great picture mentioned to the visitors. By the
time Mr. Halswelle attacked the theme there was nothing remaining except the
remembrance of the satire. His picture assuredly had no competitor good or bad
in its own season, or in many and many an Academy before or since. He has
grouped his little English captives at the base of huge columns, against which
they try in vain to rest their fair heads, weary with waiting. The youngest have
fallen asleep, the eldest are watching events with a childish apathy. A Roman
mother passing with her own swarthy children in her arms and at her knee, casts
a tender look of admiration upon them, and the two monks, one of whom is the
Pope Gregory to be, stand contemplating with pity the outcast beauty of the young-
barbarians. There is an arrangement of red and green robes, with the yellow of
oranges in a basket. " Non Angli sed Angeli " offered, we may suppose, too
promising an opening for the display of the painter's talents as a delineator of the
nude to be resisted. It is in the Royal Academy catalogue for 1877 that we find our
artist's name attached to the old title. At any rate, he seems to have been justified
102 THE MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
in his selection by the result, for discriminating critics at the time awarded him
high praise for his powerful treatment of the subject, and declared it to be a fresh
starting-point in his career.
So far, it will be observed, the London reputation of Kceley Halswelle had
been made by works almost exclusively coming within the sphere of the figure and
historical painter, albeit such elements of landscape as were indispensable to them
lacked nothing of the skill which his known ability in that direction would warrant
one to expect. But in the second picture he exhibited in 1877, " Borne from
the Via Sistina," we had a taste of his quality as a paysagiste. Yet another
important semi-historical subject, however, was to appear from his dexterous brush
ere he was to throw himself, so exclusively as he is at present doing, into the arms
of his early love. A veiy majestic and beautiful rendering of " The Play Scene in
Hamlet " was his contribution to Burlington House in 1878 ; and notwithstanding
that he was again dealing with well-used materials, he put them together in a
highly-original, effective, and successful manner. Despite the wider claims upon a
painter's powers which a work of this nature makes, our artist was equal to the
occasion, and, from the perfectly novel arrangement of the dramatis personce on
the scene, avoided all possibility of comparison with even the most well-known
treatment of the same theme. The background of this picture is particularly worthy
of notice from an archaeological point of view, inasmuch as it is a faithful and exact
representation of a curiously ancient and but little known interior at the Tre
Fontane, Rome the spot on which, it is said, the execution of St. Paul took place.
The building is of the seventh century, and although far removed from Elsinore,
and erected two hundred years prior to the period of the great tragedy, Mr.
Halswelle urges that it is in every way in accord with the tone and feeling of
" Koine from the Via Sistina " was, however, the true and great success of that
year. A scene of grey roofs and distant lights, subdued and diffused, it was
remarkable above all for its sky. It is not too much to say that Mr. Halswelle
here opened the scenery of the sky to eyes long unaccustomed to any glimpse of it
in art. Of course, we have yearly beautiful bits of sky, beautiful effects of sky, a
passage of blue, or a passage of cloud, or a tract of fine gradation from the height
to the horizon. But a great sky has its unity, its perspective, its design and
when do we see this studied ? A storm is a whole great organisation ; nay, an
ordinary firmament of cloud and wind is a system ; but who had made us feel this,
until Mr. Keeley Halswelle grasped that organisation and planned that system ?
Nay, seldom do painters even give us the pleasure of seeing that their clouds
have an under-side, as the clouds of Nature have, and that we are looking along
vast perspectives, narrowing and diminishing towards the meeting of sky and earth.
Too often a cloudy sky is drawn as though it were some perpendicular firmament,
or rather a fragment of such a thing. True, a great electric cloud does, in effect,
stand up in towers and heights like a mountain ; but a sky a composition, a system
REELEY JIALSWELLE, A.R.S.A. 103
of cloud-formations has always its levels, its parts, its immense foresliortenings.
And nothing is more delightful than the expression and rendering of such celestial
design. The scenery of the earth is studied, and so are the anatomy of man and
the articulations of the trees ; it was time that the kind of anatomy which hinds
and forms a tempestuous heaven should he seen with understanding eyes, and
recorded with an intelligent art. Since that singularly heautiful scene of clouds in
the Via Sistina picture, Mr. Halswelle's work has heen most important as a series
of skies. It would, perhaps, he hypercritical to say that his hahit of treating the
clouds with such consideration as painters in general show to the landscape only
has led to his giving them now and then a certain heaviness or solidity. In his
finest works there is no such hlemish.
After 1877 landscape began to exercise more and more sway over our artist's
nature-loving temperament ; for although in 1879 he exhibited a figure picture in
the old key, "Waiting for the Blessing of Pius IX. at St. John Lateral), Home,"
his other two contributions for that year were landscapes, as their titles and
description indicate, for thus speaks the catalogue : " Gathering Clouds : Med-
rnenham ; " and
" Solemn and silent everywhere
Nature with folded hands seemed there,
Kneeling at her evening nrayer."
As most of us know, he now appears to have abandoned himself exclusively to
similar delights. But in the full vigour of his manhood we may expect almost
anything that is unexpected from Keeley Halswelle. With his far-reaching, broad,
bold, and powerful brush he might create such combinations of figure and landscape
as have rarely been witnessed, for he is an artist in the fullest meaning of the
word, and one to whom nothing that is beautiful comes amiss. If, by-and-by, he
returns in any sort to what we may call, to distinguish it, his Itoman period, \vo
shall surely find him trying to weave into his work some of the results of his now
continuous labours at his " easel iu the open." The freshness and initiative which
he has shown in his landscape work would certainly be welcome in the treatment
of the figure.
An enumeration of Mr. Keeley Halswelle's works by name would convey little
inasmuch as they have no story to tell, except the varying story of cloud darkening
for rain or parting for sweet weather, and of the wind changing the river-surface
or shaking the reeds. His work is far too good to depend for even a small part
of its interest upon the precision of place where it was studied. That the general
character of his landscape is the Thames character is enough for the purpose.
The cheery and cordial hospitality which he dispenses on certain evenings
during the winter is a feature in the social art-world of London not easily to be
forgotten by those who are privileged to enjoy it ; and as a rendezvous for some of
the most distinguished representatives of literature and art, that studio high up oil
the confines of Piccadilly will be long remembered.
HE Slade Professor of Fine Arts at University College, London, cannot
be said to have received no recognition in the land of his adoption, Hor
to be without honour in his own country. Welcomed with due respect
by his peers, the representatives of serious art in England, honoured by
such men as the P.E.A. and Mr. Watts among artists, by such enlightened
amateurs as Prince Leopold, Mr. George Howard, and Mr. lonides, by such
etchers as Mr. Seymour Haden and Mr. Hamerton, twice the winner of the gold
medal of the Salon, with pictures in the Fitzwilliam at Cambridge, iu the Walker
Gallery at Liverpool, on the line at the Luxembourg and in other public galleriea
on the Continent, he has achieved a professional reputation such as few men in
middle life can boast. But notwithstanding all this, he is comparatively unknown
outside the circle of his scholastic labours and the few who make a serious study
THE POOR AT Ml U.
(In He Collection of d. HoicarJ, Eiq., M.P.)
of art. Of the several reasons for his want of popularity one will be at present
sufficient. The public expects artists to go half-way to meet it, and Professor
Legros will not move an inch.
Nature and circumstance have combined to develop him into a serious and
strong personality. He was born at Dijon in 1837, and came to Paris in 1851. He
began his studies, under M. Lecoq de Boisbaudran, amid considerable difficulty, and
had hardship and discouragement to encounter before he was able to send a picture
106 THE MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
to the Salon. In 1857 he exhibited a portrait of his father which won him friends,
amongst whom were Baudelaire, Gambetta, and Chanipfleury. And a propos of
this early and fruitful sympathy, M. Malassis wrote in after years: " As it always
happens, a literary man was the first to take notice of him. M. Chanipfleury who
some years before had pointed out MM. Gustave Courbet and Franois Bouvin
with his discriminating curiosity always on the alert, had remarked the portrait of
a man (the artist's father), painted strongly and simply, and signed with the
unknown name Legros." That great Paris is a much smaller world than great
London is shown by nothing more clearly than by the manner in which a clue of
sympathy, admiration, interest of any kind, is generally followed up in the French
capital. In Paris, to like or love a picture, a book, or a song, is always to desire
and generally to obtain speedy personal knowledge of the author. In crowded and
complex London, and amid English reserves and hesitations, the critic, however
interested, and however delighted, seldom dreams of getting at the personality
belonging to the new name with which the work that has taken his fancy is signed.
He is afraid of intruding, and he does not wish to make a demonstration ; the new
artist or author will not care particularly for his sympathy, and has plenty of others
for whose sympathy he does greatly care ; and in fact, the individuality which is
behind this charming work is one of so many and so many, all made vague by dis-
tance and numbers. With some such thoughts as these the London critic pens a
moderate anonymoxis paragraph of praise, and keeps back the word and draws in
the hand that might be very gladly welcomed. In compacter and simpler Paris
M. Chanipfleury, having admired the picture, wished immediately to know the
painter. "Fancying him," M. Malassis proceeds, " as an honest middle-aged artist,
obscure, deserving, and occupied in the production of modest work, he found to his
surprise a young man tinder twenty, full of fire and verve, already master of a style
at once solid and subtle, engaged with justifiable self-reliance upon numerous works
in course of execiition or preparation. The kind visit of the celebrated writer remains
as the pleasantest recollection of the painter's early days. It was like the first
smile of fame."
In 1859 he exhibited an "Angehis," in 1861 an "Ex-Voto," in 18G3 a "Mass
of the Dead." The first was bought by that fine artist and yet finer connaisseur,
Mr. Seymour Haden ; and later, when Legros' reputation had travelled back to
France, the "Ex-Voto" was purchased for the Gallery at Dijon. Despite his
friends, and his skill in drawing, painting, etching, and lithography, and despite
incessant labour, his struggle for existence was a hard one; and in 1863 he sought
a fairer opening in England, where he has since resided. As a man he is self-made,
as an artist self-directed. No individual can be said to have been his master; he
does not belong to any school, unless there be such a thing as a "serious" school.
He is the pupil, mainly, of the dead, and it would be difficult to exhaust the list
of those Old Masters who have truly been masters to him. Some moderns as
'Corot, Eousseau, and Millet have indeed affected him strongly, but in sentiment
rather than design; and his individuality, nourished from many sources, has grown
true to its inward impulse. It would be more accurate to say impulses, for from
the first Legros' delight in the cultivation and exercise of his artistic faculty, and
his desire to express an unusually profound sense of the solemnity of human existence,
were separate forces. Some such duality is inseparable from the life of the true
artist. The thing to he said and the manner of saying it engage his energies ; but
in the case of Legros they may be said also to divide them. Both are to him
sufficient ends in themselves, so that it is never safe to predict whether his next
THE uivKK (WATEK-COLOUK DKAWIXO),
(By /'emission o/ Con$tunttne lonitla, Ksq.)
work will be academic or humanist. Millet was Millet, and Corot Corot always ;
but Legros is sometimes Legros and sometimes the Professor.
His work of either kind should always receive respect, because it is always serious,
accomplished, and sincere, whether as art or utterance. He neither plays with his
tools nor trifles with his subjects, and if his faces never smile, his lines never stray.
Though gravity deepening into austerity be a chief characteristic of his work, there
is always a man behind it, and, moreover, a man who, careless of the vogue of the
day, has chosen a stern and solitary path because it seemed to him the one in which
he could do his best. Those who do not like what Legros chooses to draw cannot
be blamed for neglecting him, but may yet respect the man who refuses their
suffrages at the cost of self-expression. Legros' gravity was probably inborn ; but
108 THE MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
it was developed by circumstance, for life was a very serious business with him in
his youth. The poverty of his parents was in nowise picturesque, and his early
experiences which included an apprenticeship to a house-painterwere no matter
for jest. It is not necessary to do more than touch upon the labour and patience
by which he raised himself. Much of both were required of him, and the early
exercise of self-control has left its mark upon the work of his maturity. Art to him
was not a kind mother nor a merry playfellow, but a grave a very grave angel.
The most palpable charms of art brightness of colour, gaiety of spirit, womanly
grace, amorous sentiment were wasted upon the young Legros, whose work from
the first shows study of the severer masters only, and of none more than the sculptors
of Greece. If few artists have pursued less that idealisation of human beauty which
was the main aim of the Greeks, still fewer have shown more thorough appreciation
of their science of design, their dignity and simplicity, their reticence and repose.
The majesty of Michael Angelo has evidently affected him more than the grace of
Raphael, the uncompromising truth and straightforward execution of Velasquez more
than the suavity and exuberance of Correggio. To the Germans, especially Holbein
and Albert Diirer, he turned naturally ; and amongst his own countrymen he found
himself in sympathy more with the learned design and virile imagination of Nicholas
Poussin than with the finished and masterly artifice of Boucher or the delicacy and
romance and charm of Watteau. In Rembrandt he found another " master " whose
influence over him can scarcely be exaggerated. These were the teachers to whom
his "grave angel" consigned him teachers full of that " scorn of delight" which
is at once the noblest feature of his art and the greatest obstacle to its popularity.
Treating at once of Legros' manner and of his subjects, Mr. Hamerton, who
knows France more intimately and more sympathetically than many Englishmen
have desired to know her, has written: "It is a country of very strange contrasts;
and this contrast is noticeable amongst others, that while many French people
spoil themselves by the utmost extreme of affectation, many other French people
are just as remarkable for the entire absence of affectation ; so that their simplicity
is more simple than ours, and their directness more direct. This contrast has been
long manifested in the French art of the last half-century. Side by side in the
public exhibitions with art of the most pretentious extravagance grew up another
school of art which discarded pretension altogether." And going on to treat a
quality near akin to simplicity, a quality which has of late, however, been aped
and assumed by the most unsimple of men, of artists, and of writers, Mr. Hamerton
says: "Never was any realism so remarkable for simplicity of purpose as that of
the genuine French rustic school. I do not mean the realism of the revolutionary
realists, who call themselves so, but of that school which was entirely emancipated
from classical authority, and used its liberty for the plain expression of its sentiment,
not for the illustration of a theory. These artists were influenced neither by the
authority of the classics nor by the force of the reaction against them ; they worked
in a calm corner of their own, safe from the flux and reflux of the great currents
of their time. M. Legros is one of them ; but instead of going among the oxen
and the labourers in the fields, ho prefers the solemnity of the village church, or
the cathedral aisle, or the quiet monastery and there he will watch his models,
who know not that they are watched, and who reveal to him the secret of their
And from a less tender but equally respectful critic a Frenchman, M. Charles
Guellette we have a like testimony: "Bold and strong in his style, somefcimea
even to brutality" (brutalite would perhaps be better translated by "rouglmess"
(From the Etc/ling, "L'Homme an Chapeau.")
PROFESSOR LEGROS. Ill
than by the literal word), " Lcgros is a proof that the artist never ceases to be true ;
his first attempts testified precisely to that conscientious research, to that obstinate
labour which he brings to the interpretation of Nature. . . . M. Legros has
never flattered either the taste or the tendencies of his time ; it is thus that he
has remained himself, and that in each one of his impressions he has subordinated
the form to an original and powerful thought."
Although in his late essays in sculpture Legros has allowed himself unusual
indulgence in beauty and grace, in some respects his artistic creed seems to have
grown more strict with years. In his earlier pictures the colour was often choice
and rich ; now he sometimes seems to treat colour-beauty as a sin. To those
who have seen only his later works, exhibited in the Grosvenor, such as "Jacob's
Ladder" and "The Fire," or the "St. Jerome," "Before the Service," with its full
transparent tones of red and green and gold, would be a revelation of unsuspected
power. " Baptism " is another picture in which Legros appears not only skilful
but inventive as a colourist ; and " The Poor at Meat " is, in its noble sobriety, one
of those grand harmonies of browns which the old Spanish masters loved. Such
pictures show that Legros' late disregard of select and beautiful colour is carelessness
As a draughtsman Legros is an acknowledged -master ; and his drawing has in
abundance a quality often wanting in the drawing of artists that are his equals in
accuracy we mean the quality of life. He is inventive and even passionate in his
touches. His lines are divined with imagination as well as sight, so that the
most literal copy of the ugliest old man from his hand is vitalised with something
of his own spirit, and informed with something of his own faculty of design. Legros
at work is a sight worth seeing. As he draws and paints before his classes, the
vigour with which he seizes not only the outline and salient features of the model,
but the whole solid structure, is very remarkable A swift dash of the brush to mark
the line of the brows, two more for nose and mouth, a sharp succession of sweeps
for boundaries of hair and flesh, a little quick work to block out the depressions
and prominences, and the head, roughly but truly modelled, is created. From the
beginning to the end of the two hours or so, when the study is generally brought
to a point that needs only " finish," every toxich adds something as palpable in
intention and effect as the addition of brick to brick in the building of a wall.
Of course, rapidity is only one, and the least, of the qualities which are practised
and taught by time-sketching. The chief thing aimed at is to make a true
beginning. For a true beginning is the one absolute master-key of good work. To
prove that this has been achieved it is well, therefore, to practise beginnings, and
therefore to time the sketch, so that it may not be carried beyond a certain point,
and may have the first intention in every touch. The student learns in this way
the value of every moment of his foundation-work. But mere rapidity is by no
means to be despised, even by the artist who works in all the deliberation of the
studio, and for him who would learn how to catch a child at play, a labourer in
112 THE MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
excellent action at his work, a sky on the wing, quickness is of great value. And
quickness in its right sense means simply seeing true and wasting no strokes. As
Millet used to say, "to see rightly is to draw rightly;" and Legros' lessons with
the brush and needle teach the eye as well as the hand. In this the value of the
system lies, and the only objection to it seems to be that it needs the possession
of skill, nerve, and concentration not often found among professors. The studies,
when done, are nothing but studies ; and their freqiient exhibition with finished
pictures by other artists has led to the conclusion not perhaps unnatural, but
altogether false that Legros exhibits them to prove his skill, and not the soundness
of his method of teaching. Here Legros and the Professor are confused, and the
man of all others to shun popularity has been accused of charlatanism. To those
that know Legros and what he can do, the notion that he should wish to pose
before the public as a man that can produce a study of a model swiftly and surely
In design Legros does not seek beauty so much as distinction. The charm of
grace has less attraction for him than strength of character, and he foregoes the
ideal for the type. That he is in nowise insensible to physical beauty is seen in
some sweet faces in his picture of the "Baptism," as well as in his recent sculpture,
and here and there in his etchings, especially in their first states.
The extreme severity of what Matthew Arnold might call the artist's "criticism
of life " seems to require some natural melancholy of disposition to account for it.
The best means of studying it is afforded by his etchings, perhaps the most
sustained and considerable of his achievements in art ; and the present writer must
here return his thanks to M. Thibaudeau, of Green Street, Leicester Square, who
has allowed him to examine his almost perfect collection. The eight huge portfolios
do not contain one scene of happiness or a face that smiles. The least gloomy are
the portraits and studies of models ; but none of these are cheerful, not even that
of the artist's young daughter. His pictures of peasant life are all sad; those of
a religious cast are mostly ascetic and stern ; the landscapes are usually weird and
melancholy ; while the compositions in which his imagination has freest play seek
a grim and dreadful kind of romance in the discipline of Spanish convents, or are
the expression of a fearful fantasy. And it is very curious to note that the writer
who seizes peculiarly upon the morbid moments of French minds was his inspiration,
in his gloomy moods. The English reader fails to find in Poe all the flesh-creeping
influences for which he is treasured and feared in France. No great Englishman
or American that we know has felt or proclaimed those influences, none certainly
has ascribed his own fancies to them as Theophile Gautier, Baudelaire, and Legros
have done in turn. For the depth of horror to which this artist can descend is
shown by some illustrations to Poe's most gruesome tales, such as "The Pendulum"
and " The Black Cat," as well as by his design of a group of un wholesomely curious
savants experimenting on a corpse with a galvanic battery. Such a determination
to the black side of things must be constitutional. It is to be doubted whether
PROFESSOR LEGROS. 11 a
even his gloomy view of the life of the poor can be accounted for entirely by
his experience. He gives us their labour in the fields, but never their laugh at the
cabaret ; he paints their fasts and death-beds, but never their marriages and festivals.
His bathers are depressed, his fishers out of spirits, his travellers either tired or
caught in the rain. Millet was always grave, but his gravity was always sweet.
The sadness of Legros is sometimes grim and terrible. When we turn to his
Biblical and religious subjects, we find him depicting not the rapture of the
Madonna nor the joy of the Prodigal's return, but the agony of Job on the dunghill,
and the repentance of the swineherd in the sty ; not the glory of the chancel nor
the mirth of the feast-day, but the gravity of the convent and the toil of the
pilgrimage. There is happiness, perhaps, in the heart of the " Monk at the Organ "
(one of the noblest of modern etchings), and in that of the woman receiving the
Sacrament in the " Communion in the Church of St. Medard;" but it is the happiness
of resignation rather than hope, of awe rather than rapture. Yet there is such
strength and truth in these solemn imaginings that no one can say that Legros
has cultivated his sombre genius in vain. His " Pilgrimage to the Caves of St.
Medard," which has been well called "a masterpiece of the sordid-picturesque," his
grand "St. Jerome" (far finer than his picture of the same name), his "Job," his
" Discipline," his " Interior of a Spanish Church," his " Chantrey," are as impressive
humanly as they are fine in artistic conception. Moreover, in depicting the gloomy
side of things, he does it without compromise, without any tampering with
sentiment, never trying to interest us in poverty by the accident of beauty in a
face, nor in religion by physical sweetness of expression.
The austerity of his views both of life and of art affects his pictures not only
of humanity, but of inanimate nature. In one or two of his etchings he indeed
shows some delight in the elegance as well as the strength of trees. In the " Sheep
Recovered " he gives us receding rows of poplars graceful not only in composition
but in themselves; in others, like the "Catching Crayfish," lie indulges in a quite
Titianesque grandeur of trunk and mass of foliage. But he oftener contents himself
with bare stems more remarkable for their strength than their beauty, and these
he frequently cuts off a few feet above the ground, leaving nothing but stumps,
decorated with a few most melancholy twigs. Nevertheless, he has put forth all
his force in some of these landscapes, with or without figures, and even more than
his accustomed imagination. Some of them, as the "Women Bathing" and the
"Gust of Wind," are of astounding strength in point of design and light and shade;
so, too, is a majestic series of largo landscapes in sepia, which are equally remarkable
for poetry of conception and grandeur of composition.
And yet, after all, though we have been led into dwelling upon this painter's
melancholy, it is certain that in a very great number of his finest works melancholy
is less the characteristic than perfect seriousness. In " The Communion," " The
Baptism," " Ex-Voto," in many of the quiet incidents of pilgrimage and prayer, he
has denied himself all emphasis of expression. He has not seen it in the modesty
THE MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
of nature, and lie has not chosen to violate by it the modesty of art. The religious
of rustic France are not fanatics, and though it might have been pic-
a vulgar sense to give them a touch of fanaticism, Legros
DEATH AND THE WOODCUTTER.
possibly also from the rigour and perfection of their women, in much-
drinking. To be frank, the Bretons, who have few other grave
seldom unwilling to do penance at a " Pardon," and who even
conform to the national freethought, are among the most
But she who keeps the roysterer's home clean, and bears and disciplines his children,
in many a scene
of tlieir quiet
lives, with their
and sincere bear-
ing, their own
out effect, with-
out vanity, with-
ness, the Breton
woman is sim-
ply the most
God - fearing
creature on the
earth ; nothing
but this word of
old use will de-
scribe her. Her
father, her hus-
band, and her
son have their
They are apt to
find relief from
ness of life, and
faults, who are
yet are slow to
drunken of mankind.
and labours with him for their bread, is, at her best, a singularly faultless human
being ; she denies herself vanity nay, the very consciousness of youth or beauty,
she refuses herself ease of body or sloth of soul ; she rests neither from her knitting
nor from her rosary; she permits herself neither the pleasure of dancing nor the
stimulus of " revivalist " forms of religion. And all these abstentions give her face
the serious look not exalted, not rapt, not sorrowful, not joyous which Legros
lias rendered in many a group. And to a public accustomed to emphasis and effect
(and we blame the
painters who have ac-
customed them) his
peasant women on pil-
grimage and at church
look doubtless some-
what uninteresting. It
hardly seems enough
that a young face, sweet
and comely under its
austere cap, should ex-
press simple recollec-
tion and gravity ; a sen-
timental taste or habit
would require a hint of
anxious or yearning or
disappointed love. Still
less exciting is it to the
ordinary mind to have
to contemplate the pic-
ture of an old woman
whose brow is wrinkled
by time, not by suffer-
ings, or that of a wife
in uninteresting middle
age, whose hard features present a grave record of simple labour and prayer, and
an equally grave promise of only a little less labour in weakening years, only a
little more prayer.
And, indeed, a Greek ideal of life or a Renascence ideal of life would by no
means be r;atisfied with the negations and severities of M. Legros' rustics. Beauty
and joy of heart, and liberal sweetness of existence, are good things, or, if not, at
least are delightful things ; and if they are desirable in actual life, they have
generally been allowed perhaps in all schools except the terribly ascetic phase of
the Spanish school to be necessities in art. Here, however, is art that will not
own them. It is strange, perhaps, that we should so easily forgive their absence
THE DAHWIN MKDAL.
110 THE MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
from Legros' pictures. We do forgive it, doubtless, because joy, beauty, and
sweetness, vulgarised, liave been the paltry ideal of all the bad and trivial art that
has ever cumbered the earth. Doubtless, too, because the ascetic theory has not
wholly passed away even from the English mind, as, indeed, once impressed upon
the Christian world, it will never pass away as long as the earth endures.
Another strong reason why M. Legros' whole ethical and artistic attitude should
be respected is that he paints these serious subjects from within. And rarer and
rarer, as the world goes on, becomes the artist who is thus a part of what he
paints. As a rule, the modern painter is a cultivated student of life, an observer,
full of sympathy sometimes, no doubt, always full of a liberal human curiosity as
to the thoughts and emotions of those he goes to watch and study. But he does
watch and he does study them from outside ; as a very earnest dilettante, perhaps,
but inevitably as a dilettante. A workman to the tips of his fingers as regards art,
the modern painter is almost always an amateur as regards life. To share the
creeds or the convictions of the people he paints would be to take life altogether
too much to heart too intimately, too seriously. But that rustic school of France
has the altogether inimitable distinction that its art was professed by men who took
nothing in vain not even their own souls ! Poor among the poor, Christians among
the Christians, they worked with a reality which no mere sympathy, however liberal,
no mere intelligence, however delicate, can compass. That the artistic temperament,
which tends so much to dilettantism in life, should be possessed by men of this
temper was the wonderful thing, and the thing which produced a wonderful result.
M. Legros has taken other ways of life, it is true, but he has not changed his
heart. He has not remained, like Millet, to live and die among the scenes and
people of his birth and of his work, but he has kept the close bonds of convictions,
and traditions and habits of the mind. And these cause him to paint his own
subjects as no stranger could render them. In treating the French clergy, for
instance, at their ministrations, he presents them with that grave character, that
absence of easy effectiveness or exaggeration, which a mere observer could hardly
teach himself. He has found the serious, moderate realities of this class fully
sufficient for his truthful purpose, so that he never shows us a priest's face in
which we may be tempted to read the commonplace romances which oar prejudices
suggest to us. His priests are such as the seminary produces them, and by no
means such as any outsider's fancy would create them. He never violates nor forces
their nature for the sake of the picturesque, but neither does he idealise. Here,
as among the characters he has studied, we see purely gravity and truth.
In Legros' different versions of " Death and the Woodcutter " (the most impres-
sive of all the exercises of his imagination, and almost alone in modern art in their
successful treatment of the supernatural) it is clear that the inspiration is due to
Holbein ; and this is most apparent in the earliest and perhaps the greatest of all
his contributions to the Danse Macabre, and "Death in the Pear-tree," an episode
in the legend of the Bonhomme Misere. It is clear also that if his feeling as a
THE MASTER BREWER OF THE MONASTERY
A SAILOR'S WIFE.
(Gruup tn Brana.)
118 THE MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
humanist and his ardour as an artist often, as in this case, work together for good,
they sometimes make him careless both of the human import and of the refinement
of his subject. Such a perpetual source of interest to him are the faces of ordinary
men, and so much delight does he take in getting the artistic best out of ordinary
materials, that he attacks a Browning or a beggar, a castle or a cow-shed, with
equal gusto. In the last state of a plate on which he first drew faultlessly the
profile of a distinguished man with one of the most refined of living faces, he turned
the features into those of a degenerate type, bestowing as much labour on the
travesty as on the original. Hyperion or a satyr, race-horse or cab hack, his artistic
appetite seems equally ready for either. That this is not from want of appreciation of
nobility of form or character is shown by the perfection with which he has portrayed
the heads of some distinguished men. His magnificent portraits of Manning and
of Watts, and of Carlyle (" L'Homme au Chapeau ") and Rodin, his worthy record
of the bright fine face of his lost friend Eegamey, his head of Dalou (perhaps the
most perfect in design and consummate in execution of them all), are masterpieces
of portraiture and etching. That the man who can do work so interesting to his
generation should spend so much time upon "models" is an extraordinary instance
of the impartiality as to subject which springs from a passion for art in the abstract.
This passion, however, and the rare genius for expressing ideas by form that is
shown in all his designs from first to last, are special qualifications for sculpture, to
which noble branch of art he has turned his attention. Such disregard of grace as
he has hitherto shown will scarcely be consistent with his own satisfaction as a
plastic artist. Although severity marks his " Sailor's Wife," in the fine group which
we reproduce, and though her face is not ideal, both her figure and her features are
not only noble but beautiful. A touch of the " wild " distinguishes his bas-relief,
"The Source," from the exquisitely pretty achievement of Ingres; but the lithe
young figure is modelled with notable delicacy and distinction, and is full of chaste
charm. Of his medals, the mighty head of Darwin engraved from the plaster,
not the bronze is here to speak for itself. This, and the dozen others he has
just produced, are nearer to the work of Pisano than any executed since that incom-
parable master, with the exception, possibly, of one or two by the late David d' Angers.
His artistic efforts have been many and varied and lofty ; he has achieved mastery
as a painter, an etcher, and a draughtsman in all known materials ; but his whole
energy may be said to have culminated in these essays in sculpture, which as yet
are scarcely before the public eye.
In viewing the achievement of an artist like Legros, nothing like finality can be
attempted. Whether the last fruits of his unwearying energy and superb artistic
faculty will add to his popularity, as they will doubtless add to his reputation among
artists, remains to be seen ; but there is reason to hope that his great learning and
skill, his deep sincerity and true imagination, have at last found a field for their
exercise congenial to the spirit of his time, and not too far removed from the taste
of the modern Briton. All who prize imaginative design and vital draughtsmanship
PROFESSOR LEGROS. Ill)
for their own sakes will now and ever prize some of his etchings. But such persons
are few. To extend the range of his admirers, not only the manner hut the matter
must be interesting to his contemporaries. Save in a few portraits, Legros can
scarcely be said to have come within speaking distance of the great mass of the
public. Handicapped by a natural bent towards the solemn, he has beeli hindered
in the race for popularity by choosing to "run" in a foreign country. He is a
naturalised Englishman, but whatever of modern there has been in his art hitherto
(and that is not too much) is French. He speaks not only like an Old Master,
and from the grave, as it were, but in a strange tongue ; and he needs translation
as well as sympathy. He may fairly be asked to try harder than as yet he has tried
to make his art agreeable to the public, which, with all its faults and ignorance, is
always ready to recognise such merit as it can perceive. He lias no right to hide
the light of his genius under the bushel of pride. Popularity should not, indeed, bo
purchased at the cost of self-respect ; but one whose aim is to add to the sum of
serious thought and true feeling in his contemporaries may, and in fact ought to
strive to secure it.
That this has in the main been the aim of Professor Legros, his works bear
witness. They are grave, austere, ascetic, terrible, sometimes horrible and sometimes
dull ; l)ii t they are very rarely morbid and never ignoble. They are, moreover, in the
purest sense religious. Even his models are represented not so much as items of
a social community, as of a race suspended between two eternities. The aspirations
of a human soul towards a life beyond have been the motive of his least melancholy,
the fears of that life of his grimmest, imaginings. The supernatural and unseen
forces which bring us hither, mould our destinies while we are here, and then
withdraw us once more behind the veil, are always present, if invisible, in his
creations. For him the play of life is a tragedy, which he depicts with unfailing
sympathy for his brothers on the stage.
(From a Photograph by Messrs. Elliott and Fry.)
HUBERT HERKOMER, A.R.A.
NGLAND has always shown a facility nay, an alacrity in assimilating
the elements of the foreign genius. Insular we must needs be, but
our insularity is modified by a genuine receptiveness. Our language is
distinctively our own, yet it is combined from the tongues of alien
races with more richness of various mixtures than is to be found in the
speech of nations " unwalled by seas;" our blood is mingled, and the more
mingled the better for intellectual strength and physical beauty; and now our
art, which has of late been much less general than the other phases of our life
and culture, has begun again to profit by the example and experience of those
countries which have more of the pictorial, as we have more of the literary,
genius. And it is not merely example and experience for which we owe thanks to
DRAWN* KTCHED BY HUBERT HKRKOMKR ASA
Mountfidiy twmjigs tktjou& tfu. law-toned jtruysofthc Zu
Surety 'tur nought bid I,ove, ca.n.ffi*c j-uai j-fall to iusjiiigers .
HUBERT HERKOMER, A.R.A. 121
France, Italy, Holland, Hungary, Spain, and Bavaria; for they have lent us the
more vital elements of contemporary work. The name of Mr. Herkomer is im-
mediately called to mind as that of an illustrious stranger within our gates, who
has given English art this most effectual help, and from whom it has derived an
individual kind of vigour. Nor, indeed, is there any work in our galleries which, in
matter as in manner, has more evident purpose and more living intention than his.
He has apparently so little sympathy with any but the austerer phases of life and
character that he seldom deals with the youth and beauty and affluence of this
world. Two things are to him superlatively attractive old age and poverty ; and
these he treats, not with sentimental softness, not with an over-insistence upon that
pathos of labour of which we have had so much in recent art ; he does not seek to
make the decay of life pretty by investing it with what we may call a kind of
vulgar poetry ; but on the other hand nothing which he touches is left prosaic. No
one who rates at its true value the facile picture of peasant life with which we are
all familiar can fail to understand what we mean by vulgar poetry; and no one
who knows the Dutch school of Jan Steen and the English school of George Cruik-
shank is ignorant of the most prosaic of all prose in the art which deals with " low
life." Mr. Herkomer has taken the line of truth, sincerer than that of the senti-
mentalist, and nobler than that of the "humourist." It is his love of truth, indeed,
which has made the peasant dear to him ; only by singleness and sincerity can
such a subject be understood and loved. And with regard to this love he has
adopted a quasi-paradox of Mr. Iluskiu's, whose heart is altogether with every true
painter of the grave and innocent life of shepherds and villagers : " The painter
must love the peasant more than his picture, but the picture must be something
better than the peasant." Moreover, Mr. Herkomer paints his subject with a
sympathy which can come only of intimate knowledge. For though English in his
studies and by choice, he seems to be also a Bavarian, and a Bavarian of the
mountains, at heart. It was Mr. Buskin, if we remember right, who first drew
attention to the fact of the keen, tender, and abiding patriotism of the denizens of
hill- countries in comparison with the feeling of dwellers in plains. It is true that
the Dutch are, and have been always, politically patriotic, but their heroic love of
country has clung rather to their own people and their own principles than to
the actual soil ; whereas the mountaineer passionately loves the rocks and rivers, the
sheep-tracks, the lonely dwellings, the outlines of the hills upon the sky forms
to which his eyes have grown familiar as to the constellations of the skies themselves.
It is the evidence of such a love of the soil which gives to much of our artist's
work its most serious charm and its truest value.
Hubert Herkomer was born in Waal, Bavaria, in 1849, so that his reputation,
now of long standing, was gained in his early twenties; "The Last Muster," his
first very striking picture, and the one which obtained for him a memorable dis-
tinction at Paris, was painted at twenty-five or twenty-six. The child's cosmopolitan
experiences began early. In 1851 his father, a wood-carver of ability, settled for six
122 THE MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
years in the United States. This is how the sad little emigration has heen described:
"Accompanied by his wife a clever music-teacher and his child, Mr. Herkomer
made his way to America, at that time considered the promised land of the artifex ;
but when he got there he found himself too far in advance of the age. Carved oak
was even less appreciated in America than in Europe, and the clever artistic couple
from Waal had what Americans call ' a rough time.' Hubert's mother slaved from
morning till night striving to implant some music in the souls of dull girls ; but the
severe climate of the States proved too wearing at last, and the family, after six
years' sojourn, then came to England. Mr. Herkomer was eight years old when his
parents lauded at Southampton and determined to settle in England. Taste had
grown in the meanwhile, and a bare living could be got by artistic joiner's work
and cheap music-teaching combined. At times the wanderers went back to Waal,
but only to return to Southampton, where they settled down to the hard work of
living and educating their son. First taught at his father's bench, young Herkomer
used to help him to cook the dinner while his mother was trying to get through as
many as sixteen miserably paid music-lessons in a day. When the boy could carve
a little in wood, he was set to draw at the Southampton School of Art, and gained
the bronze medal. Then the life of the Herkomers again shifted to Bavaria, and the
young artist received invaluable instruction in drawing from the life from Professor
Elcher." The father had obtained a commission for wood-carving in the city of
Munich. Then followed a short five months in South Kensington a school which,
whatever its defects may be (and we have Mr. Buskin's word that they are many),
has certainly the credit of having either trained, or assisted in training, some of
the foremost of the younger artists of the day. Hubert Herkomer's studies there
were interrupted for a time, as he found it necessary to return to Southampton.
His artistic activity, however, was unabated, for at the place of his first efforts he
not only assisted in setting on foot a life-school, but organised an exhibition of the
works of the young local artists, and himself enjoyed that important event of an
aspirant's early years the first sale of a picture. His intermitted studies at South
Kensington were resumed in 1807, but again only for a few months, for in the
following year we find him working, under grave difficulties, in the village of Hythe.
In 1869 he exhibited for the first time in London, and from this date begins his
London career for he established himself in town at the same time a career
which shows an unchecked course of progress and success. The Dudley Gallery,
which in those days provided so many with a friendly entrance into the public world
of art, was the scene of Hubert Herkomer's first triumph the distinction of the
"place of honour," which, by the way, not even the open Dudley Gallery accorded
often to an unknown name. This was in the spring of 1870, and the work thus
favoured was a water-colour entitled "Hoeing." It was in water-colours, indeed,
that the young artist first attracted decided attention. Having joined by invitation
at about this time the Institute of Painters in Water- Colours, he exhibited in its
galleries a number of drawings of considerable originality and force. They were
HUBERT HERKOMER, A.R.A.
executed in a
to himself, with
effects of out-
door light, having
for subject little
and any of the
passages of na-
ture and of cli-
mate. With these
were more im-
portant and more
brod," "At the
" Kest," among
others. He was
while in black
and white, having
joined the staff of
the Graphic. In
1870 he painted
in Normandy a
scene of the
Franco - German
War, " Beading
War News," and
in 1873 occurred
that first appear-
ance at the Royal
is one of the land-
marks of every
artist's life. The
124 THE MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
leap was very sudden from these more or less tentative works to " The Last
Muster" of only two years later. One water-colour, indeed, had appeared in the
intervening season at the Institute "Im Walde " which was in a manner the
herald of his great triumph; nevertheless "The Last Muster" was a surprise.
The youth of the painter and the gravity of his subject, the simplicity of materials
and the nobility of feeling, the unimportance, as pictures, of his previous suggestive
water-colour drawings, and the impressiveness, completeness, and greatness of this
sudden chef-d'ceuvre, all combined to form a series of antitheses of peculiar interest.
We are told that the Selecting Committee at the Eoyal Academy, though weary
with a long day's work, were fresh enough at the appearance of the Pensioners to
welcome the picture with a round of applause ; and Sir Frederick Leighton and
Mr. Richmond, among others, wrote their congratulations to the artist. It was
hung on the line, and, as every one remembers, proved to be emphatically one of
the pictures of its year. Its great popularity, indeed, makes it hardly necessary
to remind our readers of its touching and significant subject. Heroic old age, con-
quered by time in spite of heroism, the veteran in whom the ashes of an old fire
still smoulder, the flickering life, and the extinct face which droops in the centre
of the composition these are elements into which either easy or overstrained senti-
ment might readily have intruded. Mr. Herkomer's conception of his subject has
been neither facile nor unreal, but simple and true. As is almost invariably the
case with work of really fine quality when it has a quickly intelligible motive and
intention, "The Last Muster" took the popular heart, Mr. Herkomer being one of
the happy few who have touched the public emotion by obeying and not by violating
the highest laws of their own art. Three years later the seal of an international
verdict was set on this picture at Paris, where the jury, most truly representative of
the modern taste of many races, awarded it the highest honour in their gift.
In 1876 Mr. Herkomer's Academy picture was an equally serious one in the
best sense of the term. The subject of "At Death's Door" is rather solemn than
sad if looked at in the grave and sincere spirit in which the scene of actual life is
acted, and in which it has also been painted. To a rude Bavarian dwelling on the
cold hill-side, towards twilight, the priest has brought the sacraments from the
village church; a peasant is dying within, and the tapers of the little procession
are seen burning through the windows ; on the stones of the mountain-path outside
kneel a group of peasants, men and women, also with lights in their hands, un-
demonstrative in action, reserved yet pxirely unconscious in expression, as pathetic
as Nature herself, yet with as little effort after pathos. A gayer incident of religion
in the Bavarian highlands followed in the succeeding year, when Mr. Herkomer
exhibited " Der Bittgang," the "Prayer-walk" of peasants through the fields in
supplication for a blessing on their harvest. And in 1878 appeared " Eventide," the
original of one of our engravings. Here the courageous artist deals not with heroic
old age, but with old age in its most abject phase, and not with the noble poverty
of peasants among their mountains, but with the unhappy pauperism of London;
HUBERT HERKOMER, A.R.A. 125
and yet he has not failed to impart to the types of these old workhouse women a
certain dignity which the eye of the thoughtful and worthy artist sees in all human
things, and which his hand is able to liberate. The actions in this picture are
particularly good, especially the movement of the old woman in profile who is
gropingly and with indirect touch searching for her needle, and that of the other
in full-face who is watching her. These are passages of real nature closely observed.
To the Grosvenor Gallery, as well as to the Academy, Mr. Herkomer industriously
contributes, and among his works there exhibited was the " Life, Light, and Melody,"
a Bavarian village scene, which we engrave; a portrait of Richard Wagner, the
compatriot and friend of the artist, who is himself an accomplished musical amateur ;
" Who Comes Here ? " a strikingly vivid study of expression ; " Words of Comfort ; "
the well-known portrait of Lord Tennyson; "A Descendant of the Romans;" the
portrait of Mr. Ruskin, which ranks among the noblest of his works ; the portraits
of Herr Joachim, of Dr. Garrod, of Mr. C. Villiers Stanford (a very life-like and
direct presentment of the young musician, full-face, with his hands in his pockets),
and of Mrs. Stanford to mention the best out of many.
The series of landscapes began in 1880 with a work of great grandeur and
beauty "God's Shrine." The kind of power shown here took by surprise even
those who knew Mr. Herkomer at his best. The dark, shadowy valley in the
Bavarian mountains has a lonely road, winding patiently along the sides of the
lower heights. And in the near foreground, by the wayside, stands, for the prayers
of the rare passer-by, a little shrine with its projecting roof. A fold of middle-distance
hills is clad in sombre firs, but, far above, the mountain summits soar into golden
and rosy lights, with illumined clouds. It is throughout rich in noble qualities of
execution, and, as an imaginative landscape, stands almost alone amongst the work
now produced or exhibited in England. Almost equally fine in all artistic excellence
is "Wind-Swept," another mountain landscape, representing also a complete solitude,
but without the pathetic sign of human feeling. A very good Welsh mountain
subject was exhibited at the Grosvenor a little later. In 1881 the artist's principal
picture was " Missing," a scene at Portsmouth Dockyard gates during the long
suspense, before all hope was given up as to the fate of the lost Eurydice. There
is a crowd of enquirers at the gate, upon which " no news " is proclaimed. The
painter has given some invention to the expression of varied and tumultuous emotion,
with fair success. But there is a rather disagreeable air of falling about in the
composition, increased by an unfortunate sloping post in the foreground. In 1882
another Welsh landscape, " Homeward," was at the Academy, with several portraits
of fine quality, including a vigorous and felicitous likeness of Archibald Forbes in
working dress ; and portraits of Dr. Thompson, the Master of Trinity, and of Mr.
Wynne, a "sitter" to whom Mr. Herkomer was much attached, and who died before
the picture was exhibited. A very clever, though rather careless, subject-picture was
at the Academy in 1883 " Natural Enemies," a quarrel among Bavarian peasants
in a beershop.
THE MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
But about this time Mr. Herkomer's growing reputation as a portrait-painter
brought him some almost overwhelming work. During a trip to the United States he
was turned into a kind of portrait-painting machine, and his art suffered temporarily
even after his return. With five portraits to be worked on every day a task which
befell him at Boston it was impossible to see more than the accidental aspects of
his subjects, and it is curious to observe how much Mr. Herkomer's technique suffered
HUBERT HERKOMER, A.R.A. 127
from these restrictions of his knowledge of his sitters. If, however, portraits had
somewhat damaged him, it was a portrait by which, in 1885, he more than retrieved
himself. His " Miss Katherine Grant " will long be remembered as a work of
exceptional power, wonderfully effective, yet making its effect by a thorough method,
completely carried through. The lady, whose vivid, dark eyes are beautifully and
luminously painted, and whose hair is also dark, is in white, against a white back-
ground, her long light-grey gloves being the only other deeper accent. The whole
is so truly and delicately valued that flesh, drapery, and background are relieved
strongly and brilliantly. To the same Academy Mr. Herkomer contributed "Hard
Times," a landscape with important figures a group of tired-out English tramps by
a road-side ; and " Found," a noble Welsh mountain-scene, to which the painter
attached some curious lines of poetry ; two little figures represent a wounded Roman
warrior succoured by a wild British goatherdess. To the Grosvenor he sent " The
First Warmth of Spring," a study of a rocky hill-side, with the bare twigs of a tree
wearing that lively sappy look which prefaces budding. Mr. Herkomer was entirely
absent from the great exhibitions in 1886. It was while engaged in hanging a
charming series of mountain and peasant sketches in the Fine Art Society's rooms
that he received the tidings of the terribly sudden bereavement which has left him
for the second time a widower.
Mr. Herkomer has given proof of his desire that art should be found in the
most modern matters of our present world by gladly taking up the project of beautiful
advertising, which made so good a beginning in the great Magazine of Art poster.
Other artists, no more sensitive than he, give up the advertising world as something
hopeless, and try to walk the streets without seeing the walls and hoardings. But
Mr. Herkomer, recognising that advertising is evidently a condition of the present
order, and holding that no necessary thing should necessarily be vulgar and bad,
would be willing to make designs to advertise things less aesthetic than the Magazine
of Art if only the vendors of the other things could feel the need of artistic
posters ! His design is beautiful, and striking in its gracefulness. The idea is an
allegory, simple enough to be intelligible to the wayfarer willing to pause and look
for a moment. On the steps of the temple of Art stands the Genius, genial and
generous, with her ready crown in her hands. On either side of the temple porch
are groups of the great painters of the older and the modern schools. In the fore-
ground a mother turns her children's eyes towards the beauty of art, and a young
student and a working man stand, the one opening his whole life, the other the
moment of his leisure, to the inspiration of genius. For a time this charming
design was to be seen in city and suburb ; then its day went by. The example
was a good one, but, alas ! it was fruitless. The day has evidently not come for a
reform of the advertising industry.
Mr. Herkomer was represented at the Paris International Exhibition, in 1878,
by water-colours and etchings, as well as by paintings. To the art of etching,
indeed, he has devoted time, thought, and labour, with good results. While avoiding
128 THE MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
the perhaps too stenographic note-taking of the modern French school, he has pre-
served that principle which is the genius of the art the principle of interpretation
as opposed to imitation; his needle expresses his subject and his own feeling with
the fine sympathy which no other instrument probably can so sensitively secure.
And he has learned to express himself not only by the needle, but also by. the burin ;
a picture from his hand, and the artist's own engraving of it, have been exhibited
in the Academy together. His faithful life of strenuous effort in difficulties, and of
sensitive feeling in keen sorrows and joys, cannot fail to give its true stamp to his art.
Mr. Herkomer was elected an Associate of the Eoyal Academy in the spring
of 1879. fie is also a member of the Vienna Imperial Academy of Art, of the
Brussels Institute of Water-Colours, of the Liverpool Institute, and of the Eoyal
Society of Water- Colour Painters at the Hague. Thus the different and rival
schools of several nations have already adopted him, but England claims him as her
The kind of selfless love of art and the hopefulness and helpfulness for others
which are Mr. Herkomer's most charming qualities, have led to the institution of an
Art-school which should supply some of the enormous wants of English students. Its
aim and conditions have been well sketched by a writer in the Guardian, who says :
"It is a serious undertaking, the outcome of a generous energy of no ordinary kind,
executed with great practical ability, and rich in promise of good work. As so often
.happens, the opportunity fell accidentally on material which had been gathered and
stored for many years of patient labour and varied experience. One of Mr. Herkomer's
nearest neighbours at Bushey, Mr. Eccleston Gibb, has built on his own ground an
Art-school for students of both sexes, under the immediate direction and absolute
control of the artist, who gives his services as a labour of love. The students are
selected from those who, having made considerable progress in their education, have
at last reached the stage of painting from the nude figure. Out of more than a
hundred applicants, thirty-four were selected as a beginning. There are three
studios, of which the male and female students in turn have the use. Two of these
are noble rooms of great height and space, with vast windows to the south, scarcely
interrupted by any frame, admitting continuous light, as well as windows in the roof.
These are for drawing from the life model. One is handsomely fitted on the north
wall with old oak, panels of the same running round the room, and numerous desks
with lockers arranged for students. The third, a smaller room, has a clever arrange-
ment of windows in an apsidal form down to the ground, with glass above, so that the
model may be drawn, if desired, in pure sunshine. The ventilation of these rooms
seems to be excellent." With what considerate practical thought the mechanism of
the matter has been arranged may be gathered from the fact that the possible poverty
of students has been consulted in every detail of supply. The studios lead out of a
corridor into which open an office for the sale of artists' materials at a reduced price,
and a room fitted with large locked pigeon-holes for the safe bestowal of studies
in progress, each student keeping the key of his own. Besides these conveniences,
130 THE MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
Mr. Gibb has spared no expense in erecting kitchens and refreshment rooms where
those who desire it can have suitable food at a low price. And another point is
specially to be noted. "Provision is made," as the same writer proceeds, "for the
residence of the porter, with kitchen and offices separate from the rest; and this
officer and his wife will take care of the models, both men and women, who will be
provided with beds for the whole week from Monday to Saturday without cost, and
have the privilege of getting their food on the premises at a moderate expense. This
provision for a class of persons, who of all those recognised by society as a necessary
appendage to art are the most ambiguous and awkward to deal with, is an item in
this school which is to be highly commended, and possibly may call more attention
to the whole question of models. A secretary is on the spot to superintend the
ventilation, lighting, and offices, which are under his supervision and control. The
students live in lodgings in the little village of Bushey (the ladies having the first
choice), and in the neighbourhood. Some parents arrange to keep house for their
Mr. Herkomer has given careful consideration to his time-table, which is
evidently intended for workers and not for triflers. " The programme does not seem
to be above the ordinary tension of wholesome study, though it is severe enough
to find out the weak muscle and tlie feeble will. Mr. Herkomer puts no footstool
under the heel of indolence that plays at work. His students must draw and paint
standing, with free play of the elbow he believes in setting to, not in sitting at,
your work. He aims at giving every one his fair share of opportunity and privilege,
and has adapted his rule of student life with an eye to strictness in principle and
liberty in detail. He also believes much in the education of young artists by one
another; and, having started them on a true system, leaves them very much to
themselves and to each other. For instance, on Monday the students assemble in
their respective studios. Taking them alphabetically, it is arranged that the first
comer shall pose the model, and, having chosen his position and the light and shade,
he puts it to the show of hands whether the posture is accepted by the class. If
a majority be against him, he tries again. And when the show of hands has decided
in his favour they work at the model in that pose from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., with the
interval of half an hour for luncheon. In the course of Monday they must lay in
the whole figure in colour to avoid niggling, and to get breadth and liberty of hand.
On Tuesday they return to the same spot, and do a small pencil sketch of the same
figure, as a criterion of accuracy and a corrective of faults in the first drawing. In
the afternoon of that day they go on with the same drawing. On Wednesday they
paint all day at this figure, and again on Thursday till 1 p.m., at which hour the
model is posed in three or four positions, with light gauze drapery. Friday is
allotted to painting on the first drawing ; but on Saturday morning all the students,
men and women, come together for a head study from the living model. The night
work, which we believe is at the student's discretion, is limited to draiving from
7 to 9 p.m., at which hours painting is forbidden. One night of the week is given
HUBERT HERKOMER, A.R.A. 131
to quick sketching of the model in two positions, and for these exercises three hours
are allotted. It should be added that to the female students a nude female model
is allowed." Thus Mr. Herkoiner has not adopted the curious, nay mystical rules
by which in our Government schools study from the female model is allowed to a
motley mob of boys and men and forbidden to young women.
To proceed : " Mr. Herkomer trusts to the thoroughness of the system laid down
to fulfil his intentions with as little of his own personal interference as possible.
He is accessible to the pupils at all times, and may be seen by them at his work;
but there is no egotism about him ; he does not propose his own drawings for their
study, nor is he, as a rule, continually overlooking their work ; indeed, with the
pressure of hard labour in his own life this would be impossible. His pupils
have the inestimable benefit of working beside an artist who is improving and
developing, if not making, his reputation certainly not making his money and
taking liberties for his own ease, as so many do who have made their reputation
and now are making money. He is a man of remarkable energy and as remarkable
versatility, with a play of imagination that quickens t-he eye to see and the hand
to create ; so that, like the Greek, he does not rest till he has expressed his thought
in some plastic material, soft as clay or chalk, or paint, or hard as wood or stone,
or iron, or silver, or steel. His frugal home, with its beautiful adornments, recalls
the artist life of the great Italians of the fourteenth or fifteenth centuries, when
Giotto and Orcagna were architects and sculptors as well as painters, and Francia
worked in gold, and, later on, Leonardo comprehended not only all the fine arts
but many sciences in his own mighty brain. The visitor will see the master's
hand in landscape gardening, wood-carving, ornamental ironwork, modelling in silver,
engraving, etching, modelling in clay, architectural plans, as well as portrait-painting ;
and all this the product of a few years of early manhood, within the compass of a
small and, but for the singular wealth of art wrought on the premises, what may
justly be called a thoroughly English home. The contagious inspiration which
will pass to the students cannot fail to produce great results. And in their master
they will find a man of sterling powers of work, not bred in kings' houses, but one
who has endured hardness and is chastened by experience, and now, with the
mature confidence of a happy manhood and the genial influence of prosperity,
gives scope to his delight in domestic charities by a generous outlay of unpaid
labour in forwarding the honourable ambition of a younger generation of English
It should be added to this account that Mr. Herkomer by no means desires
that his students should be confined to painting. It was an ill day for Europe
when the arts and the handicrafts were divorced, and separated into "fine art"
and " labour." Thoughtful as well as artistic men have keenly desired that they
should -come together again in their old intimate conjunction, with all its degrees of
dignity. At Bushey they are inseparable, and the Bushey students learn to keep
them so. It not unfrequently happens in life that a man with a marked artistic
HUBERT HERKOMER, A.R.A.
temperament fails in "art" because he has* limited his hopes and his attempts
to one of the only three "arts" he recognises painting, sculpture, or architecture;
whereas nature intended him to be eminent and happy as a wood-carver, or a
hammerer of iron, or a silversmith. Mr. Herkomer gives his opinion and he has
a most rapid and sympathetic eye for artistic " diagnosis " on the capacity of a
lilt. HEItKOMEH 8 HOUSE: THE Ml Hid.
student, and his advice saves many a one from a lifelong mistake. His whole
desire is that the work done shall be the best possible, the best of which the student
is capable, and in such excellence alone can young learners hope to find happiness
in their profession. Humility and truth two great theological virtues are as
necessary to their art as to their moral natures.
As regards the kind of teaching which prevails at Bushey, it may be described
as pausing between the too great liberty of English method or no-method and the
too great discipline of the French manner. Mr. Herkomer is not altogether an
advocate of the French studio system, for he believes strongly in the individuality
THE MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
of the student. He deems it
important that the learner
should " find his own identity,"
and yet should not lose time
by unguided searching and ex-
periments. Nor, apparently, does
he rejoice to see the young
talent of England under strong
French influence, for he con-
siders English characteristics
worth preserving. Mr. Her-
komer has decided that in no
case the teaching at Bushey
shall be quite gratuitous, for he
has observed that all young
men and women who have con-
sciences are preserved against
temptation to idleness by the
thought that their friends have
paid something for them, and
thus have given a hostage into
the keeping of their honour.
Nevertheless, the fees are so
apportioned as not to be pro-
Nowadays, in our self-con-
scious times, artists are apt to
speak of the mission of their
art with a solemnity which is
somewhat dubious. The average
painter is a person who knows how to make the best
of both worlds by which we mean not so much the
terrestrial and celestial spheres of the theologian, as the
two worlds of the real and the ideal. Why, then, is he
beguiled into using the language of a kind of apostle
of the aesthetic ? That the character sits strangely upon him is evident from the
fact that he makes no sacrifice for his priesthood. His eye and his heart should
be constantly under the training of nature ; but he lives in a town, and in a town
where even the primitive things of nature the light, the air, the shadows, the
clouds and stars are spoilt. We confess that we should be pleased to see more
artists living away from London in the clear air : whether they breathe it in the
countries of the great art of which they are fond of talking, or among the peasants
HUBERT HERKOMER, A.R.A.
they are fond of painting, or in some English village where the dust is pure of
coal, and the shadows are dark with atmosphere and not with soot, and the sunset
is lurid with cloud and not with smoke. At least, if a painter chooses London, he
should do so simply, and not in the character of an apostle. He can " live beau-
tifully " in town, but there is undouhtedly a better part ; for London life is hardly
possible without such social distractions as are inconsistent with singleness of heart
and anything like constant application. Hubert Herkomer is evidently one of the few
who consider the light of heaven worth the London season. To him a two months'
holiday in the decline of the year's loveliness and at the fag end of ten months of
streets and squares is no proof of such a pussion for Nature as earns that favour and
that constancy of hers
" Nature never did betray
The heart that loved her."
The man from whose golden poems that fervent verse is taken gave constancy for
constancy, and never betrayed the
Nature who betrayed not him.
But then, to Mr. Herkomer, ab-
sence from his work would never be
a holiday. He goes to Bavaria and
to Wales to paint, takes his change
of air in a tent pitched under the
rocks ; and his daily recreation is
only that variation of labour, that
alteration of his methods of expres-
sion, which, by giving his art fresh
instruments, rests the artistic mind
fatigued with one attitude. Working
with the brush, the
the engraver's burin,
the etcher's point
for each of these
tools he must assume
different powers, sub-
ject himself to dif-
and order his
thoughts in a dif-
ferent system of re-
his medium of ex-
pression Only, but ITUDIO or MR. iiEiiKomtn, MX.
1,36 THE MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
his subject also he changes, passing from the composition of an imaginative group
to the study of one face in the repose of portraiture, or to that of nature in
mountain and sky. He probably finds more rest and recreation among the methods
and manners, the powers and restrictions, of mezzotint, line, and colour than
another might enjoy in the game of politics relieved by fox-hunting and shooting
and angling. He has placed himself away from town so that his time and
thoughts may be undivided, yet near enough to be within easy reach of exhibitions,
friends, sitters, and the music which he loves second only to his own art.
The approaches to Bushey are not particularly attractive. London dies away
in a different manner in all her suburbs, and perhaps nowhere more slowly, more
flatly, with a more persistent lingering of the scraps and shreds of her industries,
her coal and brick, than on the side of Willesden Junction. That great wilderness
and tangle of lines passed, things assume a more rural aspect. Still there is nothing
exactly lovely in the neighbourhood. Bushey itself is dominated by a high-level
railroad upon its dreary arches ; but the village is not a bad village, and looks as
peaceful as if it were deep in Arcadia. At the end of the little still street, with a
small commonplace garden in front, stand the two joined cottages of which Mr.
Herkomer has made his house by name Dyreham. The building is unnoticeable,
and has been left, as regards its outer form, just as the tenant found it. AVithin,
the distribution of the rooms has been little altered, except by the intercom-
munication of the two cottages. A small drawing-room on the left and a small
dining-room on the right, a still smaller servants' hall, and a very attractive series
of bright little kitchens and offices, on the ground floor, have eleven tiny bedrooms
above. But if the shell of the house is ordinary, far other is the interior. In a
little vine-grown workshop at the back is made the whole of the furniture sideboards,
cabinets, and chairs, designed in the purest Gothic taste, and finished with the
finest labour of hand and tool. Of the work and the workman we shall have more
to say hereafter. The Herkomer household is not obtrusively aesthetic ; yet there
are few members of the cultus who would not consider Mr. Herkomer's chairs as
treasures, while the familiar design and colour of a favourite Morris paper the
fruit pattern printed over the old willow leaf are the first things to be observed
in the dining-room. The ordinary plaster ceilings, too, have been everywhere
replaced with oaken beams, generally divided by lines of colour, to carry out the
tints of wall or dado ; and the high brass fender, dear to the man of taste, stands
before every fireplace. There is certainly no affectation anywhere ; but if this
thoroughness of workmanship, this purity of design, and this low harmony of
colour are Philistine, then by all means let Philistinism flourish and increase.
In the drawing-roorn are two elaborate cabinets of oak. One of them has a
lovely series of the seasons painted by Mr. Herkomer in its panels single figures,
full of grace and freshness ; and there are spots of good colour in pottery, china,
and fans upon their shelves. Flowers, daintily harmonising with the jar of old
crackle or other fine-toned porcelain in which they stand, bloom everywhere ; and
HUBERT HERKOMER, A.R.A.
in a corner stands a spinning- wheel, such as the mother of Mr. Herkomer's mother
may have sung to in her Bavarian home. The chinmeypieces are surmounted by
a facing of blue-and-white tiles, with china on the shelves; and very close to the
upper shelf comes the low oak ceiling, with its lines of colour. Conspicuous in
the dining-room are the portraits of the painter's father and mother, and these are
in his eyes the most precious possessions in the house. The one is a memorial of
a face that has passed away, but the original of the other is present as the patriarch
of the household. In the decorative
colours of the simple Avails a particularly
happy effect is to be noted : one of the
little upper chambers being furnished
with a light-blue Japanese leather-paper
that one which is well known to the
lovers of such things, and in which
some small designs and lines of gold
are mingled. The room is dadoed with
wood painted blue to match, the ceiling
having the same blue between the beams.
Another of the little group of rooms is
arranged for the same paper with yellow
paint, to accord with the gold in it.
Much blue is used in the upper storey,
this most difficult of colours, with which
no " decorator " can be trusted, being
in every instance prepared by Mr. Her-
komer himself. Indeed, there are every-
where signs that the artist has that
wholesome share of the workman's nature
with which a painter cannot (though a
writer may easily) dispense.
The studio is the heart of Dyreham. It is built out at the back a tall roomy
structure, with a group of outbuildings in the rear. A path through a little space
of garden leads to its door. Within, everything speaks of work ; for though there
is no lack of decoration, the hands of the father and son are seen in it all. The
easels stand at the further end. The high walls are hung all over with materials
of a greenish colour and quiet design. The Gothic oaken tables, the cabinets, the
seats of every shape and kind, including a noble chair with steps and a dai's these
are all from one industrious hand. Among them is a carved bench, which is a relic
of other times, and still bears the direction written upon its back, when it was sent
as a present to the young student in London by his father. " We can afford better
wood now," says the artist, with a backward glance at more difficult days. Mr. Hubert
Herkomer himself has undertaken the decoration of the mantelpiece, which is to
THE MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
be surmounted, up to the roof, with metal work copper, brass, silver, and iron,
chiselled and hammered by his own hand in designs of decorative figures. The metal
is applied in plaques upon the flat wall. A bust of Mr. Herkomer stands on the
cabinet to the right. At the far end of the studio is a recess, in which will some
day he built an organ ; the zither, meanwhile, is his favourite musical instrument.
In recesses at the back, too, are the artist's store of books, with mysterious places
for the stowage of his canvases, and shelves upon which, for the study of form, are
ranged plaster casts of famous heads. About the middle of the studio, just under
a skylight, stands Mr. Herkomer's etching-table beneath its canopy of ground glass,
with neat drawers as full of instruments as the terrible shallow drawers you
shudder at in a dentist's room. Everything is in perfect and perpetual order; and
yet this pleasantest of ateliers looks as though it was the scene of family life as
well as of artistic labour. Signs of the painter's work are mixed witli signs of
the leisure of others : a hit of art-embroidery lies half-
finished on a table, and a sleek cat nurses two blue-
eyed kittens before the fire.
Through the further door of the studio the
garden is reached, a rather utilitarian garden,
blooming with apple blossoms,
and showing an unusual array
rows of whitened canvases
drying in the air. Here
stand the hut and the tent
which Mr. Herkomer and his
family have used for camping
out in Wales : both models
of clever practical contriv-
ance, which have stood the
strain of hurricanes without
the failing of a rope or a
peg. When in working order,
the hut and tent are fitted
with hammocks for beds, and
with a hundred space-saving
appliances. Life in camp is
of course life out of doors;
but a shelter must be in
readiness in case of bad
weather. The painting -hut
is fitted with a camera, and
also with a large plate-glass
window and every necessary
A CORNER Of THE DRAW ING-ROOM.
HUBERT UERKOMER, A.R. A.
arrangement of skylight. Banged along the back of the studio and house are
the auxiliary workshops of this multifarious art-factory. Foremost in interest is
the bright room, with its flower-surrounded windows, where Mr. Herkomer, senior,
labours at his oak carving, turning, and joining. It is impossible to note with-
out interest the affectionate and filial care with which the hardship of the past
is made amends for now. The venerable artist-workman is happy in the enjoy-
ment of the finest materials, the finest tools, that heart could desire. But his
simple, or rather ascetic, habits have not changed ; the teetotallers, and those
very thorough vegetarians who deny themselves
even the use of fish, may boast of him as a fine
exemplar of their doctrines. Like his son, he
speaks English admirably, and is a diligent student
of English literature after working hours. And
working hours with him are invariable ; no artisan
called by the stroke of a bell which must be
obeyed is more punctual to his task than he.
Close to the wood-carving workshop is the
printing-room. Here several men are at work
producing impressions from Mr. Herkomer's mezzo-
tints and etchings. We see a splendid press roll
smoothly round, and a print of Mr. Millais' portrait
of Lord Beaconsfield lifted out. A proof of the
same artist's "Caller Herri n'," which Mr. Herkomer
has also engraved, stands near ; he speaks with
enthusiasm of the head, which he considers as
fine as anything the master has ever painted. "In
doing this work," he adds, "I am nothing but a copyist. The art is to render
what you see in the picture, and not what you fancy you would like to see." In
the same manner, he explains the sympathy and the respect and appreciation
which are so striking in his best portraits ; "I am fond of my sitters, and I am
fond of them exactly as they are, and not as I imagine them to be, or would
like them to be." He asserts that even affectation, the most disagreeable of human
characteristics, cannot keep away the artist's liking, but that he has become fond
of even an affected sitter.
Passing into a more commodious house than the low cottages of Dyreham, the
Herkomer household will always keep their simple and laborious habits. That in-
defatigable interest which, as we have seen, the artist is in the habit of importing
into the practice of his art, and which has made him eager to excel in every method
of expression in turn, he also imports into the concerns of his everyday existence
and the facts and accidents of his surroundings. His theory of life is the very
opposite of that contained in the French aphorism which insists upon it that " le
mieux est 1'ennemi du bien." He is never content to let well alone, but is always
140 THE MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
seeking for the better. He changes, he shifts, he revises and redecorates and re-
arranges ; so that his environment has the attribute of an endless variety of aspect,
and its circumstances seem gifted with an innate and peculiar capacity of meta-
morphosis. What is more to the purpose is, that the capacity is never at fault,
but that the result of its exercise is always ingenious and impressive. It would bo
well, indeed, if everybody's surroundings were as happily inspired. But that is, of
course, impossible. The instinct of fitness, the knack of consummate arrangement,
the faculty of ordonnance in colour, and of combination in line, are integral parts
of the artistic capacity, and are no more to be acquired through study though
study will go far to educate and develop them than the incommunicable quality of
LUKE FILDES, A.R.A.
HEN Charles Dickens selected Mr. Luke Fildes to be the illustrator of
the never-completed "Edwin Drood," the great novelist was only giving
another instance of the marvellous insight he possessed into character.
He saw at a glance, doubtless, that in our present subject he would find
a genius that jumped precisely with his own. That he was right must be evident
142 THE MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
to all who have any knowledge of Mr. Fildes' work. The dramatic realism, the
power of close observation of simple hut telling details, the intimate acquaintance
with the motives, feelings, and emotions stirring the heart of everyday common
life, which it displays, are in the very spirit of Dickens ; and in the course of
this hrief sketch reference will he made to an anecdote fully confirmatory of our
words. Admitting, for the moment, that they are justified hy what the puhlic
know of our artist's ability as a draughtsman on wood, no less than as a painter
on canvas, and looking hack from the eminence to which he has attained, one
hardly expects to see him at the outset of his career stirred hy no loftier ambi-
tion than that of becoming an ornamental designer, as it is called, or at the
most a designer of stained glass. Yet this was so, chiefly because in this com-
paratively mechanical line of art he probably saw the only loophole for the time
being by which he could evade those commercial pursuits to which he was
destined by his friends ; for, born on the 14th of October, 18 i4, in the midst of
a business community, he avers that, as far as he can look back, his ancestry
were entirely devoid of artistic instincts. Thus we find him making a compromise
by diligently sticking to his general education in the day, so long as he was allowed
to attend the School of Design in the evening at Chester, the city in which he was
brought up, though Liverpool was his actual birthplace. In his seventeenth year,
however, the sacred spark within him began to glow, and the strong inclination
which had always possessed him for watching nature, animate and inanimate, in
a solitary, absent, mooning sort of fashion, grew so confirmed, that, looked upon
by his friends at last as a hopeless dreamer, he was permitted to make his choice
of a career.
Discontented with the narrow round of mechanical work afforded by the Chester
school, he, now that he was free, sought one founded on a wider basis, then lately
established at Warringfcon. Still, this did not yield sufficient scope and verge for
the aspirations now developing in the young artist. Designing patterns for oil-cloth,
wall-papers, &c., which was, as at Chester, the principal study followed at the
Warrington. school, was not likely to satisfy the heart and brain of a lad capable,
eventually, of imagining and carrying out " The Casuals " and " The Widower."
So, after two years more of ornamental designing, he came to London, and in
1863, at the age of nineteen, attached himself to the South Kensington Schools.
Labouring diligently thenceforth, with the purpose of lifting himself into a higher
position, he, by the time 1866 came round, succeeded in getting himself admitted a
student of the Eoyal Academy ; and as he kept himself going while in London
chiefly by wood-drawing, it can easily be understood that this branch of his
profession by degrees opened up to him a fairly remunerative occupation. The
editors of many of the monthly magazines, when they got an inkling of the stuff
that was in him, were only too glad to attach him to their staffs, and it would be
amusing and encouraging to young aspirants were there space to recount some of
the anecdotes he tells of the humble estimate he held in those days of the worth
LUKE FILDES, A.R.A. 143
of his work. Somewhere about the early part of 1809 it was that he entered into
an engagement with Dickens, through Messrs. Chapman and Hall, to illustrate
" Edwin Drood," and this led to that close intimacy between artist and author
which would have ripened into an affectionate friendship had it not been cut short
all too soon by the lamented death of the latter. Very interesting is it to listen
to Mr. Fildes' account of their interviews and consultations. The twelve drawings
for the new book gave the most unqualified satisfaction to its writer as well they
might. At the end of this same year, too, it was that the first number of the
Graphic appeared, and its first page at once riveted the attention of all good judges
of art, for on it figured conspicuously " The Casuals," the drawing which, five years
later, was destined to be developed into the picture which established Mr. Fildes'
reputation as an artist of the highest promise. Meanwhile, Dickens never lived to
see the triumph of his young colleague, but most of us can remember how appro-
priately, but painfully, the association of the two was carried on, as it were, for a
time, by the large wood-drawing which the artist made of the study at Gad's Hill,
and which he called " The Empty Chair."
"While thus pursuing his work on the illustrated paper, and ever claiming
increased attention by his successive productions in it, such as the page engravings
of "The Dead Napoleon," "The Bashful Model," etc., our artist was earnestly
striving to master the technique of oil-colour. Hitherto, except through a few
modest water-colour drawings (mostly landscapes) exhibited at the Dudley Gallery
and elsewhere, no one knew him except by his work in black and white, but in
1872 he rather astonished those who had only thus known of him by exhibiting
at the Royal Academy his first oil picture, entitled " Fair Quiet, and Sweet Rest."
This Watteau-like water party was followed in the next year by a smaller canvas
in a somewhat similar key called " Simpletons." Scoring fairly, they neverthe-
less did not promise to lead to such a performance as that which in the year 1874
drove home and clenched the reputation the Lancashire lad had by degrees been
There was no doubt about "Applicants for Admission to a Casual Ward."
Whatever the work lacked in mere executive skill and it was reasonable that there
should be some evidence of a hand not entirely at home with the new medium-
was more than atoned for by the power which it displayed, that power to which
we venture to refer as Dickensian ; and here is the confirmatory anecdote. Mr.
John Forster, while this picture was in progress, was writing the life of Dickens,
and it happened at the same time that he had some intercourse with Mr. Fildes.
One day the painter was telling the biographer about the work he was engaged
on, when the latter produced a letter from his deceased friend in which occurred
a passage describing some "casuals" as Dickens had seen them somewhere "down
"Why!" cried Mr. Fildes, "those words absolutely represent my subject. May
I quote them?"
THE MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
"Assuredly," was the answer; "they will he public property by the time your
picture is before the world."
Thus it was that in the catalogue we found against our artist's canvas the
pungent and appropriate lines " Dumb, wet, silent horrors, Sphinxes set up against
that dead wall, and none likely to be at the pains of solving them . until the general
Upon this, people concluded that the picture had been suggested by the
biography, and that, tempted by his success with "Edwin Drood," the artist was
FAIR QUIET, AND SWEET KEST.
(Zty Permission of the Proprietors of " The Graphic.")
further displaying his aptitude for illustrating his author. Whereas the circumstance
only showed how the two minds, independently of each other, had been similarly
impressed by the same terrible spectacle. We have spoken of "The Casuals" as
a work of promise, and the phrase may seem cold for the description of a picture
so successful a picture which would probably have made the sensation of the year
had not all other sensations been overpowered by the popular furore which during
all that season crowded the corner where the " Koll-Call " was guarded by its police-
man. But brilliantly clever as "The Casuals" is, it has some touches of a man
who is not altogether emancipated from the conventionalities that hamper youth.
Bold as the attempt at realism is here, yet the artisan's wife weeping, and the widow
in the foreground with her baby, are rather what the public expected of Mr. Fildes
than what Mr. Fildes quite saw. And this slight conventionality, only accidental
in his work, but the very essence and bulk of many another popular painter, lasted
through what may be called the sentimental phase of Mr. Fildes' career.
LUKE FILDES, A.R.A.
after the produc-
tion of this pic-
ture, a lady whose
name has honour-
ably figured in
more than one
catalogue as that
of a delicate and
able painter of
genre, Mr. Fildes
paid a lengthened
visit to Paris,
where he was not
at work on the
theless, had its
marked effect, for
his next picture
was not a senti-
mental or subject-
picture at all, but
a study in the best
and highest sense
of a figure in full
had some of the
liant quality of
the painjfcer's much
later work. This
was the charming
" Betty " of 1875,
the popular pic-
ture of the " fair
and honest milkmaid" who goes through the dew to her cows with a handful of
flowers tossed into her milking-pail. We have said it is not a subject-picture, but
there proved to be subject enough to take the public fancy greatly. Reproduced
146 THE MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
in colours by the Graphic (and far better than such things are generally done),
"Betty" took her place in thousands of nurseries and cottages up and down and
across England. To artists and critics it was evident that Mr. Fildes had made
enormous progress, his brushwork was so accomplished, his illumination so fine.
The figure is bright against a bright sky, but the one brightness seems rather to
enhance the other.
Nevertheless, " Betty " proved to be but a specimen of future things. For the
painter, perceiving evidently a "divided duty," and quite unable to decide whether
he should devote himself to execution and lighting and technical excellence, or
whether he should yield to his strongly dramatic bent, and paint emotions, followed
the latter course for a time, and produced " The Widower." The subject is certainly
intensely pathetic. This homely and tender labourer, who has lifted his suffering
child from her bed, and who, in his ignorance and helplessness as to what he should
do for her, raises her hot fingers to his trembling lips, is suffering bereavement in
its most cruel form, when bereavement means not only separation, but the bitter loss
and deprivation of all the necessities of the heart. She who would have comforted
his bewildered affection, and cherished the sick child, and tended the little ones who
are running wild at their play, and given confidence and hope to the poor elder girl
who has prepared the father's dinner and looks on in her poignant young anxiety-
she is buried away, away from hearing, away from help; her hands are idle; "there
is no room for any work in the close clay;" the beings for Avhoni she lived will get
no word or sign from her again, whatever their need of her. In contrast with " The
Widower" was the next picture a little group full of laughter, called "The Play-
mates." A bare-shouldered girl with a charming gesture tickles the little dog that
lies backward upon her arm. In 1878 Mr. Fildes was represented by "The Casuals"
at the Paris International. In 1879 he was made an Associate of the Academy. The
Philadelphia Centennial awarded him a medal, so that this period was rich in honours.
The next important subject was " The Keturn of the Penitent," also emotional,
a little bit trite in the principal motive, but fresh in the treatment. Indeed, despite
the sentiment of the title, the picture is principally a picture of the character of a
country village, and a most faithful and excellent study of out-of-door evening light
and tone. The leading figure of the subject is by no means the central figure of
the composition, for the returned penitent, a forlorn young woman, has fallen on the
steps of her old home to the extreme left, while the accessory personages occupy
the rest of the picture, a large -cart-horse and a carter with his children forming the
middle and prominent group. Mr. Fildes has in no way idealised the loiterers in
this straggling village street ; he has aimed at the literal reproduction of character
an aim which cannot be attained without an almost subtle intelligence ; witness
the action and expression of the old woman who is gossiping over the matter in the
middle distance, biting her nails with a thoughtful twist in her face. A little
nearer, a group of urchins fresh from their tea peer at the girl round the corner
of a house with boyish curiosity. One of them holds a thick slice of bread and
LUKE FILDES, A.R.A. 147
butter, a mouthful of which he is in the act of eating; his thumb turns back in
mechanical avoidance of the buttered surface an incident which we mention as
an example of Mr. Fildes' veracity and observation in small things. The English
peasant is now little else than a rustic townsman, and his dress and manner have
a sordidness which cannot appear charming in art. Mr. Fildes, however, in the
treatment of his figures, has borne in mind the excellent counsel given by Newton,
the American artist, to his compatriot and brother of the brush, Leslie " A painter
cannot do better than attend to the advice of Polonius : ' Be thott familiar but by
no means vulgar.' '
After exhibiting single figures in 1881 and 1882 (one of them a brilliant study
of a Venetian girl), Mr. Fildes finished for the Academy of 1883 a picture which
had been for s~ome time on the easel, and which, with all its great merit, failed owing
to the impossibility of the materials. In painting " The Village Wedding " in the
prosaic rustic England of fact and truth, he attempted a feat which perhaps not
another living painter could have achieved with more success. Moreover, he gave
himself even more difficulty than he need have done by choosing a period sufficiently
far back to present all the inevitable dowdiness of old fashions. The fashions at
a village wedding are naturally not elegant, but when they were rustic versions of
tilings that were extremely ugly even in the bean, inonde, they were hardly picturesque
matter. We must suppose that the wedding-party in the picture were holding their
gay but blowsy nuptials somewhere about the year 18/58. Of course the one strong
conventional temptation to an artist attacking such a subject was to be pastoral.
Mason certainly would have been pastoral qua /id mvme and in spite of all. But
Mr. Fildes absolutely set his face as a flint, and refused to be pastoral at all. He
would not be pastoral even in the slight and moderate sense possible in England ;
ho would not pretend that his wedding-guests appeared in shirt-sleeves, with braces
falling about their waists ; he would not give in by so much as a cotton gown or a
sun-bonnet. He has dressed his bridegroom in the tall hat and Sunday coat and
high collars of state occasions, and made his rosy face pinker with soap and water,
and has attired his bride and her bridesmaids in the crinolines and muslins, the
little curtained bonnets and black elastic boots that correspond. And among the
wedding guests is a Life Guardsman in resplendent scarlet. Now it is just possible
to bring a tall hat into serious art, for M. Legros has done it in his " Repas des
Pauvres," where, equally with Mr. Fildes, ho refused to be pastoral. But there
all is gloom, with a certain mystery, and then the hats are old. Whereas in " The
Village Wedding " they are nothing if not new, and they take the full light of the
jocund day. It is, of course, an anomalous thing that a mere costume difficulty should
frustrate a picture ; but it is not so strange if we consider how completely, in our
much-dressed times, the costume makes the figure, pictorially considered; it makes
its composition, its form, its line, in a great degree its attitiide. Nevertheless, apart
from this all-important point, the people in " The Village Wedding " should be a
pleasant and interesting group. The procession, coming fluttering with ribbons and
LUKE FILDES, A.R.A. U9
muslins, at a good swinging pace, towards the spectator, has a capital expression of
movement. The bridegroom, we feel, must look a wholesome and comely man in
his working dress, for his face is good and handsome even in its grotesque setting, and
it beams with the frank happiness which no bridegroom of higher life would permit
himself to exhibit ; and the bride is as gentle, pretty, and modest as could be desired.
And in execution the picture is extremely fine, showing no insistent dexterity or
dash, but a quiet completeness and distinction full of charm. The work doubtless
caused its author more anxiety, labour, and thought than any of his successes. It
certainly was, by all the care bestowed upon it, a very important part of his self-
education in the art which he was perfecting so fast.
For Mr. Fildes was at this time a harder student than ever. He determined
to carry his technique further by constant work in the most advanced schools, and
after the most brilliant examples. At the same time, " The Wedding " persuaded
him that to gratify his strong inclination towards actuality and realism of subject
he must work abroad. For that unlucky "Wedding" might have been painted,
with equal truth to fact, yet with pleasure instead of offence, in any country in
the world outside the British Islands the Colonies and the United States always
excepted. And not only w r as it fitting, nay, necessary, that his subjects should
be taken abroad ; the studies he was prosecuting studies in ensemble, in light, and
in execution could only be thoroughly carried out under foreign iniluences, and
with the stimulus and incitement of foreign example. Accordingly, " The Village
Wedding" was no sooner given to the world than Mr. Fildes devoted himself to
Venice. Naturally, there was some regret among people who had keenly admired
the pathos of his earlier English subjects, and who would willingly have gone on
forgiving a comparative duluess of manner if they could have been moved every
year by a " Widower," or thrilled every year by "Casuals." But the artist was
working out his own development in his own way, and he wisely kept himself free
from all the temptation and persuasion of popularity. A few years before, Mr. Van
Haanen had founded quite a little school for the study of contemporary Venice
a Venice unlike the sea-city of romancers, but full of a most characteristic
life. The first picture of the school was the famous " Pearl- Stringers ;" and all
the painters who followed Mr. Van Haanen's example chose, like him, to paint
specially the girl-population of Venice the girls with their bright dresses (not
costumes they have a costume no longer), their towzled hair, their peculiar forms
of Italian coquetry, their chatter, their work, and their idleness. And much as
Mr. Fildes had promised now and then in the past, his achievement in the Koyal
Academy of 1884 was a very delightful surprise. He proved himself to be not only
" in the movement," but in the very van of the movement. He frankly adopted
the position of a disciple of younger men, but no sooner was this done than he
proved himself their leader. His brilliant group of Venetian girls sewing together
on the steps of a canal made a picture as complete and beautiful as anything that
had been painted in the excellent young traditions of the new school in the City
150 THE MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
of the Lagoons. The girls are studied from the very life ; they have the pretty
and rather weak faces, the amiable rowdiness, the untidy hut perfectly pardonable
linen, the cloudy hair, the nondescript but brilliantly-coloured dress of the Venetian
type as it really is. A beautiful blonde in the centre of the group is embroidering
some bluish-white tulle, which floats like a mist over her lap, her own chemise,
which falls from her graceful shoulders, being of a warmer white. A little more
in the background sits an idler maiden, whose thick black hair is being combed out
by an old woman ; a girl with a delicate profile is to the left ; other damsels ply
their needles on the opposite side. Quite in the foreground a delightfully amphibious
Venetian baby is being prepared for a dip into the canal. All the group is studied
in full and perfect daylight, and the ensemble of tone is absolutely right and
masterly, while, for sheer brightness of mere daylight, the surfaces of the cotton
dresses in the foreground surpass anything yet accomplished by an Englishman.
A second canvas shows the single iiguro of a young Venetian woman, clad in
variegated and intense colour, and with a dark face of great beauty. She is
surrounded by triumphantly painted accessories. Now, in all this it was difficult
to recognise the hand which produced the comparatively plodding and literal
execution of "The Widower."
It was whispered, without authority, that the Academical powers did not quite
smile on the new school of Anglo-Venetians that, in fact, the President did not
banish them altogether from his mind when he spoke at the banquet that year of
those who are impatient and seek to "dazzle by dexterity." But there is something
much worthier and much better than dexterity in the work of Mr. Fildcs. There
is a truth of lighting and a rightness which prove him the possessor of that great
artistic gift a fine, keen, and intelligent perception. He knows how to see as well
as how to ita'uit. Certainly the little group of partly foreign painters lighted up
the dimness and dulness of the exhibition. It is miich more reasonable to suppose
that Sir Frederick Leighton, who certainly does not underrate beauty of technique,
intended to reprove a far more extreme school, which has had rare representatives
of late years in our galleries, and who practise "impressionism" in a manner never
touched by Mr. Fildes.
In the following year there was another Venetian group girls again, and again
an immediate foreground of water. The nearest figure is in profile, posed with a
wonderful naturalness and spirit. The girl half sits upon one heel, and looks up,
arrested at her task of rinsing a cloth to and fro in the canal, by the talk of her
companions above her. Close at her back is one of the copper vessels in which the
Venetians carry "the wash" to their homes. She is dressed in a bright spotted
print, and has her hair in the misty disorder which is the fashion by the Lagoons.
The other picture of this year was a single figure, " Eosetta."
So was each of the two works exhibited in 1886 " The Flower-Girl " and " A
Daughter of the Lagoons." It is rather disappointing to Mr. Fildes' admirers to
find him leaving groups even for a time ; for among his chief merits is the difficult
LUKE FILDES, A.R.A. 151
achievement of presenting figures one with another, in the right relation together-
relation of light and tone, and relation of animation and action. Bad actors, even
when they look at one another, never seem really to bo addressing one another,
eye to eye and mind to mind. Nor are the figures in poor pictures mutually
interested. And the relations of light and effect in a bad picture are invariably
lifeless the figures are added to one another with a dull deliberation. In Mr.
Fildes' work all looks as vivid as though you saw it in a flash ; and as complete as
though you had a week to see it in.
Mr. Fildes has had his house (by Mr. Norman Shaw) erected in one of the
happiest corners in London that angle of Melbury lload which abuts on the
forest trees and greenswards of Holland Park. Standing at this bend, the house
faces south ; it has for its right-hand neighbour the late Mr. Burges's pure
thirteenth-century little chateau, with its massive walls and turret, and it looks
across at Mr. Colin Hunter's low- windowed, quaint home, and at the rather severe,
flat surfaces of Mr. Marcus Stone's nothing marring the prospect except two or three
builders' houses, ambitious but characterless, and evidently determined to be redder
and brickier and more " artistic " and certainly bigger, than the architects' houses
that surround them. To say that Mr. Fildes' house is one of Norman Shaw's is
almost to describe its exterior. Its interior distribution is spacious, and the manner
of the decoration gives an effect of grave and stately beauty altogether distinctive.
The staircase and rooms are far loftier than is usual in red houses of this design,
and the heights of simple wall covered with gold Japanese paper and dark tapestry
are singularly effective. The entrance-hall is paved in (lenoese fashion in /t-.s.W//.
In the studio it is rather refreshing to note that perfect plainness which is suggestive
(From the Kicking by A. Lcgros. Ly Permission of Messrs. Seelcij.)
EDWARD J. POYNTER, R.A.
R. POYNTER is essentially a learned painter, and his art demands from
those who approach it knowledge at least sufficient to enable them to
appreciate the height of his ambition and the nature of his aims. Only
those who have themselves passed through something of the same search-
ing discipline of mind and hand can expect to find pleasure without an
effort in such work as his. An instinctive love of that which is strongest
and noblest and most beautiful is not, alas ! innate in all of us. Early surround-
ings will often warp the direction of even a fine natural taste ; and there are many
amongst us of whom, by the way, Mr. Poynter himself has said some hard things
who are not sure of what they like, who are not sure of what they think beau-
tiful, but who are haunted by the longing to know and desire only that which is so.
Every word of his " Lectures on Art " is inspired by a profound study and
reverence for the works of Michael Angelo, the most heroic master of modem times ;
and we are thus prepared for the character of Mr. Poynter's art, which is markedly
grave and learned rather than spontaneous. Just as the French realist cried out,
EDWARD J. POTNTER, It. A. 153
after long looking at his model, " Je ne vois plus! la nature me grise," one can
imagine Mr. Poynter troubled beyond the power of speech or sight when beholding
the walls of that Sistine Chapel whose glories he cherishes with constant passion
and worship. Now this passion for and worship of the great Florentine has been
shared by men of the most diverse aims and character. Blake adored his spiritual
power ; Reynolds bowed down before the great master in portraiture, who let no shred
of individual character escape the keenness of his vision ; and Jean Francois Millet
when he reckoned up the strong sensations received in the magic world which opened
to him in the galleries of the Louvre declared that from Michael Angelo alone
did he obtain " complete impressions." It is because his work is always " complete "
that each man who has some serious gift or grace may iind himself in Michael Angelo ;
and there is one constant element in all ho did which makes his art peculiarly
attractive to Mr. Poynter. What we call "style," taken in its abstract sense, is a
quality extremely difficult to deiine ; but it is incontestably a marked feature of the
art of Michael Angelo, as it is, indeed, the indispensable sign of all great art. Every
work, of no matter what date, which may claim to be a masterpiece of art, is
invariably impregnated with it. AVhether we turn io the stupendous achievements
of classic times, or to the glories of the Renaissance, we shall always iind this
distinguishing element; and we shall recognise that it is in virtue of its presence
that the slightest sketch or the merest jotting of notes from the hand of a master
acquires an untold value.
In England it is only by an effort of reason and reflection that we arrive at
a conception of "style;" neither the public nor those who work for the public have,
as a rule, any natural taste for it or any instinctive perception of what it means.
Both English artists and their English patrons can and do take unalloyed pleasure
in an art which has absolutely no trace of the pre-eminent beauty we call style.
This peculiar characteristic has been frequently noted by foreign critics ; and they
have generally attributed it to the fact that art in England has for centuries past
been divorced from any connection with the development of great religious and
political institutions. To these it seems to have owed the elevated character which
it attained in ancient Greece and in the Italy of more modern times ; and through
these the artist himself became an object of interest to the rulers of the State. In
England, on the other hand, this divorce is so complete that the State has very
naturally seen no reason for occupying itself with the well-being of artists, nor for
interfering with the training of a class whom it could not employ. So that artists
from whom all official recognition of the national importance of their profession
was withheld have been forced to take the chances of such private patronage as they
might secure by their own efforts, and in order to win the notice of those from whom
alone they could hope to obtain the employment of their powers, they have necessarily
been obliged to feel anxiously for each turn of the popular taste. Art thus exists
among us only as an object of luxury, and artists have been forced, for the most
part, into the more or less frivolous office of entertaining the leisure of classes whose
THE MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
occupation is amusement and
whose interests are purely per-
sonal. In portraiture and in
the painting of anecdotic sub-
jects the English painter finds
that his services are chiefly re-
quired ; in these two branches
of his art he displays brilliant,
solid, and often original powers,
but the grand quality of style
is not his birthright, and such
as seek after it are forced to
look back for support to the
schools of other days and other
climes. Thus we constantly find
such of the painters of Eng-
land as are visited by inward
promptings which make them
ill at ease in the ch'curnstances
by which they are sxirrounded,
referring to Michael Angelo as
to the supreme standard, in re-
lation to which they judge of
themselves and of their work,
since of all the masters of
modern days not one has shown
in so large a measure the evi-
dences of nobility of style.
Thus, too, one who has, like
Mr. Poynter, not only an in-
stinctive love of style, but an
inborn desire to see that which
is noble, turns naturally to
that great spirit which knew
nothing that was not noble,
and whose every line bears
witness to his possession in a
transcendent degree of that
quality of style denied to lesser
men and lesser times.
The desire to see that which
is noble is almost necessarily
ST. GEORGE AND THE DRAGON'.
(From Ou Dtttgn /or Hank.)
156 THE MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
accompanied by some touch of that austerity which comes out very strongly in the
portrait of Mr. Poynter which we reproduce from an etching by Legros. For unless
one in whom such a desire works is born to exceptional conditions conditions of
which we can now with difficulty conceive he cannot bo satisfied without much
conscious putting away of things ignoble, without much painful effort, much of the
self-discipline and severity that leave their sign on all it does. And at least until
such self-discipline and such rejection of that which is low and trivial have become
instinctive by constant habit, the pain of the effort needed will show itself in the
manner of all our striving, and will make us seem harsh even when we would be
most gracious ; so that if the reader turns even to the illustrations which accompany
these pages he will see at once why Mr. Poynter's work lias been rather difficult
of access and unattractive to the general public, and also why it is worthy all the
honour and attention which the student can bestow.
From the first works exhibited by Mr. Poynter to the last we may trace an
uninterrupted sequence of purpose and achievement. If we run over the list from
18C4 when he made his first appearance 011 the walls of the Academy with "The
Egyptian Sentinel" and "The Siren "to 1882 when he exhibited "In the
Tepidarium " and "Design for the Decoration of the Dome of St. Paul's" we
find his career marked by great variety of success, sometimes of course even in rela-
tive failure ; but we have to note, in failure and success alike, the same dominant
intention always directed with virile force to the attainment of the same class of
objects. "The Egyptian Sentinel" and "The Siren" were followed by "The
Pompeian Soldier" (18G5), the "Offerings to Isis " (18u'G), and the "Israel in Egypt"
(1867) a work by which the painter won his first popular triumph, because, as it
happened, the subject told a story which interested an enormous audience. For the
English public adores an anecdote or -an illustration, and a picture is always popular
with them if it vividly presents some already familiar theme just as a joke, to be
favourably received by an English meeting, cannot be too well worn. Mr. Poynter,
therefore, in taking for his subject the Captivity of Israel in Egypt was certain to
arouse an outburst of popular sympathy ; and his learned presentment of the bondage
of the favoured nation under their hard taskmasters not only attracted the attention
of all those labouring in the field of Egyptology, but awakened the curiosity of every
English household in which the study of the Old Testament was a daily lesson.
But the admiration which his work excited, and which it had deserved by
its intrinsic merits, left the artist apparently unmoved; for the merits which
assured him regard and honour in his own profession had very little, if anything,
to do with the momentary popularity which he had obtained. Strenuously deter-
mined on perfecting his own talent, he chose his next subject simply with a
view to the further opportunity which it would afford for testing and developing his
powers. He set himself to the painting of "The Catapult" (1868), with the same
unflinching resolution to meet every difficulty of conception or execution full-front
which he had shown from the first. The story told by this work which procured
EDWARD J. POINTER, K.A.
the painter's election as Associate of the Royal Academy was not, however, likely
to arouse much interest in the general public. The fall of Carthage hefore the brutal
energies of Rome was no word of import to English homes, and the suggestions of
Mr. Poynter's subject could not carry far with a popular audience ; but it proved
and this was why he chose it a fresh test to his powers. The slaves of Pharaoh
appeared in myriad masses cast
in strong relief upon their own
blue shadows chequered by the
glaring sun ; the soldiery of
Rome were revealed within the
giant womb of the monster
engine big with the fate of
Carthage, their swarthy flesh
glowing from out its protecting
shades. The complicated de-
tails of the vast machine itself
were put on canvas with extra-
ordinary precision, and the pro-
blems involved in the working
out of its construction had
evidently been the subject of
deliberate calculation. Every
groaning pulley and straining
rope, every beam and every
weight, was adjusted in accord-
ance with the strictest require-
ments of the engineering science
of the past ; and it vras again
made clear that the artist had
in him, not only the stuff of
an archaeologist, but much of
that peculiar mental fibre which
lends itself with pleasure to
the treatment of mechanical problems the fibre which has shown itself conspicu-
ously more than once in the history of art, and that in some of her greatest
men. The putting into motion of this old-world battery, with its strangely
tormented system of shafts and windlass, needs must give occasion to the fullest
variety of action among those employed upon it; and so we had groups of
the strong servants of Rome, stripped to the sun and wind, toiling with an energy
which brought up their starting muscles and their splendid thews till the flesh
rippled before our eyes like swelling waves beneath the breeze, only with some-
thing of a far nobler beauty of playing and changeful line. To the left, in
TUB IUH8 0? MAKCH.
THE MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
strong contrast, were the harnessed and helmeted archers crouching within the
shadows cast by the massive supports of the shed which protected the catapult, and
laying shaft to how in defence of those who worked. The figures of this second
group like those of one or two of the subordinate actors to the right seemed to
A STUDY OV A HEAD.
show some slackening of the nervous force with which Mr. Poynter had characterised
the central personages of his design ; and it was remarked by critics that many of
the figures were in attitudes of action rather than in action, although less obviously
so than was the case in some of his previous works.
Now the power of " drawing -movement " would seem, except in very rare in-
stances, to be in some measure denied to men whose main preoccupation is that of
attaining high perfection and correctness in draughtsmanship. For, to give the im-
pression of rapid movement, exaggerations always seem to be necessary which are
repellent to a steady judgment. Dashes of brilliant suggestion will often render
EDWARD J. POYNTER, R.A. 159
higher service than the most accurate lines of definition, ami the very effort to bo
perfectly accurate will sometimes defeat its own end. Mr. Poynter, dwelling always
with great stress of intention on the forms which he seeks to render, does sometimes
come short perhaps of producing exactly that impression which he had intended to
convey. In this way his "Andromeda and Perseus" (1872) and his " Atalauta's
Race " (1876) were disappointing. The thrust from the hand of Perseus, the tarrying
of Atalauta, were moments of action which seemed to demand a certain swiftness
of vision incompatible possibly with the painter's other gifts. Yet, with characteristic
determination, he has fastened again and again on some fresh crisis of transitional
movement; and in this respect, as in many others, his perfect consistency of aim,
strong judgment, and tenacity of purpose have enabled him to snatch victory from
every apparent defeat.
The advance made by Mr. Poynter in the development of his powers of design
will be apparent to those who first examine his " St. George and the Dragon,"
a careful workmanlike drawing executed in glass mosaic for the Central Hall
at Westminster in 1870, and who then call to mind his impressive scheme for
the decoration of the dome of St. Paul's. To judge of the progress which he has
made in the perfecting of his powers of draughtsmanship, we may look at the
constrained attitude (correctly enough reproduced in our illustration for the pur-
poses of this contrast) of the Roman soldier placing his arrow and his bow in
the left-baud corner of "The Catapult," and then turn to the running figure of
the boy from " Nausicaa and her Maids Playing at Ball " (1K7'J) ; or let us
study the " Visit to yEsculapius," fitly honoured in 1880 by purchase for the
Chantrey Bequest. Or, again if we would see how much more easily than of old
as well as how much more expressively Mr. Poyuter now constructs his groups
let us note the arrangement of the soldiers who stand one behind another to
the extreme right of " The Catapult," and then observe the two figures of women
wringing and washing linen from the " Nausicaa and her Maids."
In speaking of Mr. Poynter's successes, we find ourselves recurring to the
exhibitions of several years ago rather than to those of more recent seasons. Mr.
Poynter paints now as if he were out of spirits with his art. His " Diadtimene,"
in spite of its serious study of the figure, did not equal in merit his earlier historical
works, and it is no disparagement to the peculiar powers of this painter to say that
portraiture lies very distinctly outside his range. This is a matter of the kind, and
not of the degree, of talent. Great masters in most of the schools have been masters
of portrait, but they had some love of actuality and character which Mr. Poynter
apparently has not. That he would do well to give up this branch of art for the
more classic subjects to which he has devoted the serious attention of his life is
evident from the portrait of Lord Ripon in the Academy of 1880. Another Yorkshire
nobleman has been associated with Mr. Poynter in a pleasanter way. For Lord
\Vharncliffe is the happy possessor of some of the finest of this painter's works.
A visitor to Wortley Hall, in 1880, speaks of them as being "the chief ornaments
THE MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
of the stately and beautiful room for wliich they were painted. 'Perseus and
Andromeda' shows the virgin chained to the rock by her hands, which are behind
her back. Her head is decorated like that of an antique bride; her feet are on
white drapery, which is washed by the sea, and drips on the stone ; her red robe is
blown out in a wide curve. The monster has- issued from the waves ; his body
trails in many folds, and penetrates the depths of a cave, which the waves fill.
Perseus has alighted on a stone before the opening of the cave, and, standing with
his feet wide apart and firmly placed, thrusts his falchion into the open mouth of
the dragon between the teeth ; he is in armour ; his action is full of energy.
Andromeda's form, the best part of the picture, is a fine example of vigorous
conception, and shows the pallor of horror in every limb and feature. The sea is
a capital, learned study. In ' The Fight between More of More Hall and the
EDWARD .7. POYNTER, R.A.
Dragon of Wantley,' the dragon is tinder the foot of More, in the agonies of death.
The action of the hero is full of intense passion. The finest part of the picture
is, we think, the grand, weird, lonely-looking waste hills of the background, seen,
102 THE MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
or half seen, in blue, misty twilight. ' Atalanta's Eace ' is even better known than
either of its forerunners. The scene is near the middle of the course ; the time is
while the swift virgin stoops to pick up the treacherous apple. A golden fillet
spreads like an iris above her shoulders as, keeping her robes together with one
hand, she stretches the other to the prize ; Hippomenes continues his flight, and
the spectators cheer. The design is admirable, and fully carries out a vigorous
conception. ' Nausicaa and her Maidens Playing at Ball ' is best known of the
series, and least of all needs description to remind readers of its exceptionally good
colour, clearness, and pure illumination, the energetic nature of its design, and the
careful draughtsmanship which it displays."
Reference has already been made to Mr. Poynter's "Lectures on Art," published
iii 1879, a volume displaying width of knowledge and trained accuracy of observation
as to both the theory and the practice of art. Perhaps the greatest interest it aroused
was in connection with a passage of arms between the artist and Mr. Buskin. In
an early part of the book Mr. Poynter expressed considerable respect for Mr. Buskin.
"The whole of his works, from beginning to end, set before us," he says, "more
exalted notions of the beauty and sublimity of Nature than have ever been presented
to us in words, amounting almost to the setting forth of a new religion of the purest
and noblest type." Between the date of this earlier lecture and that of the ninth,
however, Mr. Buskin had criticised Mr. Poynter in his " Academy Notes," as having,
in common with Michelangelo, drawn figures with the object of " showing the
adaptability of limbs to awkward positions." Then Mr. Buskin became not only
"the prophet of a new religion, but its high priest: he has the genuine priestly
intolerance of private judgment." Mr. Poynter went on to "explain to my students,
likely to bo misled by his special pleading, the general blindness to higher qualities
of art which is observable in all Mr. Buskin's later writings ; " and he found that
the result of his teaching " might easily be to supplant, by a canting affectation of
nature-worship," direct and healthy study. These later writings were described as
"mental pap;" and, finally, Mr. Poynter suggested that Mr. Buskin's "animus"
was to be "put down in charity to the lunacies of his declining years."
The Introduction prefixed to the Lectures showed the same decided disposition
to carry war into the enemy's territory. There the following passage occurs: "Mr.
Buskin has so consistently elevated the moral and sentimental side of art over the
aesthetic, that we are tempted to suspect him of never having had any perception of
beauty in art, as distinct from beauty in nature ; and we may search his later
writings in vain for any appreciation of beauty or form or colour. Beautiful colour
with him seems synonymous with bright colour, or what he would call pure colour,
as typical of purity ; where he once thought he saw fine colour in Titian, he has
since strenuously denied it ; and his keen admiration of Turner's later work, which
is full of crude contrasts of coarse colour, shows that his appreciation of Bellini's
exquisite tones must bo a mere accident. Of beauty of form he seems to have no
perception whatever : as for the great artistic qualities, design and harmony, if he
EDWARD J. POYNTER, ll.A. 1C>3
has ever taken them into consideration, or has ever seen them at all, he has long
ago set them aside as valueless."
In one of the Lectures themselves is a passage conceived in the same tone.
" If Mr. Buskin could speak his real mind about the ' Last Judgment ' it would
probably be something to this effect : ' I deny the right of Michelangelo not
only to treat the subject of the " Last Judgment " in a way in which it does not
appeal to me, but I deny his right to treat the mule figure at all ; I have never
cared to study the nude figure, and have no perception or appreciation of its beauty;
when I speak of the glory of nature and of God's works, I exclude the human
figure, both male and female, and refer you to mossy rocks and birds' nests, sunset
skies, red-herrings by Hunt, robin-redbreasts anything you like, in fact, but the
figure for its beauty.' '
Of course, it was rather rash to put such words into the mouth of the great
art-critic; nevertheless, the increasing class which now pri/es Mr. Buskin's teaching
more and more for its ethics and less and less for its a>sthetics (reversing the emphatic
estimate of him common some twenty years ago), will be inclined to see some truth
in Mr. Poynter's words. No one, probably, is more conscious than the painter is
now himself of what was exaggerated and extreme in his own part in this curious
little passage of arms. But these passing controversies have, perhaps, the merit of
attracting by their racy, personal interest, the attention of portions of the public,
otherwise uncaught, to artists and their opinions ; and some who come to scoff may
remain to study and admire. The quarrels of authors have been made the sub-
ject of a volume ; and, on the generally-accepted principle that two blacks make
a white, the scribe has a certain satisfaction in recording how one Blade Professor
metaphorically flung his Lectures in the face of another and that other a man
for whom, under all surface irritation, every painter must hold depths of admiration
in his heart.
(From re PfcofograjA by J. 0. Hemery, Regent Street.)
WILLIAM HOLMAN HUNT.
[NTIEE and most conscientious devotion to liis art, as the one great
leading purpose of his life, is the characteristic which must strike all
who are acquainted with Mr. Holman Hunt or his works. Had not
his love for it been inborn, invincible, he could never have triumphed
over the obstacles to its pursuit which beset his early days. Moreover, had
there not existed in him a serious belief that it was his destiny to be a
painter in spite of everything, we should hardly have found a nature so entirely
tender and affectionate as his persistently running counter to the earnest wishes
and entreaties of a beloved parent.
In this brief space it would be impossible to follow the narrative of his young
life in anything like that detail which its great interest demands. Suffice it that,
owing to a personal acquaintance with certain unfavourable specimens of the brethren
WILLIAM HOLM AN HUNT. 165
of the brash, and being painfully impressed by an account of the dissolute life and
career of George Morland, his father set himself in direct opposition to the pursuit
of art as a profession. He, too, in his early days, had some leaning that way, with,
it is said, no mean executive ability, as still existing specimens of it testify. But
this power having, as it would seem, been suppressed upon moral grounds by the
elder Hunt himself when a young man, he had no scruple about demanding the
same sacrifice from his son when the inherited taste began to develop itself. The
child was therefore destined for a commercial career, and at the early age of twelve
and a half was taken from school, and placed in a merchant's office as the surest
means of at once putting an end to a love for drawing which was becoming all-
engrossing, and which his father looked upon as likely to prove, if persisted in,
dangerous and destructive to the boy's future.
Fate, however, was on the side of the son, and by the strangest coincidence it
turned out that the merchant with whom he was placed was himself an amateur
artist, who, discovering young Hunt on one occasion occupying his leisure in drawing,
actually encouraged him, and initiated him into the mysteries of oil-painting, by
aid of materials stowed away in a cupboard of the boy's office, which had about it
many elements of a studio.
Amongst the opportunities thus afforded him at every spare moment for carrying
on his beloved pursuit in his little office, one occurred by which he practically
distinguished himself. During his master's absence one morning, a certain old
gentleman called, of whom, whilst he was waiting, Hunt made a striking pencil
sketch. This led to the identification of the man by the police as a begging-letter
impostor long "wanted." The merchant thereupon made such strong representations
to the elder Hunt, that lie consented reluctantly to his son's giving up a commercial
life, and trying to qualify himself for a studentship at the lloyal Academy; but long
before this could be accomplished the father repented, and again insisted that
Holman should seek another situation in the City. The first the lad had found for
himself, and now he obtained a second in the London agency office of a Manchester
cotton house. He exerted himself to do this, because he hoped that from the sub-
ordinate routine nature of his work he might yet steal a little leisure to go on
with his drawing, and because he knew that his father was endeavouring to find
him a post in a firm where the business would be so active and pressing from
morning till night, as to leave him no chance of any leisure moments. Unconscious
of this, perhaps, pardonable purpose on Holman's part, Mr. Hunt was contented, and
made no further efforts to thrust the boy into the whirlpool of business which he
feared so much.
As in his first situation, so now, strangely enough, in his second, fate smiled on
the young enthusiast. As in the first he had chanced upon surroundings which gave
him an insight into oil-painting, so now in his second he scraped acquaintance with
the rudiments of water-colour, for considerable work was done in this agency office
by designers of patterns for the Manchester cotton house, and we may be sure lie
160 THE MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
did not neglect to avail himself of all the hints he could thus pick up. Again his
occupation of copying letters, making entries, etc., was carried on in a sort of
studio, and he had no difficulty, of course, in establishing by degrees a claim to
use it as such at times for himself.
During a dull autumn season, when he was doing little more than minding the
office, he persuaded a certain handsome old Jewess, a fraitseller at the street-corner,
and well known in the neighbourhood, to sit to him. So successful was the portrait
in oil which he made of her that, when it was seen, and the likeness as well as his
talent recognised, he got many remunerative commissions for replicas of the picture
from gentlemen who came to the house on business. They declared he ought to
be an artist ; and this encouragement, added to the fact that he had displayed no
aptitude for commerce, as his master roundly told him, determined him to burn
his boats, and, corne what might, to strive to be a painter.
The circumstance of some young boy clerk having taken the portrait of Nanny
the fruitseller oddly enough reached the ears of old Mr. Hunt, for he also was
occupied in a large City warehouse. He said to his son, " Now, Holman, if you
could do that sort of thing, and make some money by your brush as this youngster
has done, I don't know that I should oppose your wish." But when he learned,
as a sequence to this remark, who the youngster was, he immediately withdrew his
half-granted consent, and, in spite of his surprise and inward gratification, still
refused to allow his son to follow his bent. So the lad took his own course, broke
with his father for a time, and though the struggle to live was hard, managed to
keep his head above water, and to launch himself on his career as a painter.
Born in Wood Street, Cheapsidc, in 1827, he was at this time sixteen, and after
some study at the British Museum, etc., was admitted in 1844 as a probationer, and
in 1845 as a student, at the Royal Academy. As he did not regard the unbroken
exhibition of his pictures as of much importance to his ultimate reputation as an
artist, Holman Hunt's name, after its annual recurrence for eight years, appeared
but very irregularly in the Royal Academy catalogues. Although he began to
exhibit in 1846, it was not until 1852 that any very marked attention was given
to his work, but the nature of it that year fanned the flame of the controversy about
Pre-Raphaelitism which had been kindled in 1850 by Millais' " Carpenter's Shop."
Nay, though Millais' experiment in religious art had had the good or ill fortune to
excite the public and the press, it was to Hunt that the first publication, as it were,
of the Pre-Raphaelite movement was really due. He painted the first Pre-Raphaelite
picture a fact which has never had full recognition. This work, which was to
have consequences and a posterity, was "Rienzi," illustrating a passage in the
Tribune's early years. The families who held Rome as a kind of private fighting-
ground have just had an affray in the roads ; Rienzi's young brother has been killed,
but, careless of the blood of the plebeian, the knights ride away except one, whose
gentler nature is touched, and who pauses by the roadside. Rienzi, kneeling by the
young body, swears his memorable oath of vengeance and liberation. His arm is
WILLIAM HOLMAN HUNT.
raised and his mouth set angrily. At this time Hunt and Rossetti, the inspiring
and master genius of the little group of hoy-enthusiasts, had a studio together, and,
in the spirit of mutual charity which was practised by the brotherhood, the great
poet sat to his co-mate sat to him with all the patience which Pre-Raphaelite
fidelity required, calling up the savagery of expression appropriate to the moment.
The press did not spare the personal appearance of the friends who rendered each
other this service ; with criticism of the pictures were mingled remarks the reverse
of complimentary upon the models. In this case Mr. llolman Hunt found that ho
(fJ// TVrmwi'oH nf Mmtrs. llntnj Urnrrs nnil 5"H.)
made considerable calls not only upon his companion's physical endurance, but upon
his mental stoicism as well. To this time of studentship and of dawning notoriety
belongs also a portrait of Rossetti a mere sketch, but invaluable as a record of the
face in early youth. To return to the first Pre-Raphaelite picture. Attention should
particularly be paid to the row of trees in the further plane, and to the growth of
grasses and bushes in the foreground ; for in the treatment of these we find the
earliest instance, in the modern English school, of work absolutely from Nature.
Not only the kind of tree but the individual tree has been studied from the life. It
was the beginning of the end of "generalisation." If work is to be valued for
what it does as well as for what it is, this almost forgotten " Rienxi," which advanced
principles that have become the commonplaces of our day, should have a little niche
168 THE MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
Another very early work was " The Flight of Madeline and Porphyro " from
the "Eve of St. Agnes" the first of several pictures from Keats. Mr. Holrnan
Hunt shows the lovers passing stealthily through the hall where the late revellers
of the previous night have fallen asleep over their cups. These groups are rather
exaggerated in their drunkenness ; and for an artist hound to ohserve truth to facts,
as a Pre-Eaphaelite was hound, the painter has clothed his heroine strangely enough.
She is flying into the storm that snowstorm of which Keats makes us feel all the
frost and fury, when " the owl for all his feathers was a-cold " with hare arms, and her
light loose dress ungirt and unwrapped. "Valentine Rescuing Sylvia from Proteus"
is a suhject from the " Two Gentlemen of Verona." It made a protest against
the ideals of heauty if we may dignify them by that name which prevailed at the
time when it was painted. And with conventional prettiness Mr. Hunt put aside all
heauty whatsoever for which no one will blame him who remembers that no reforms
are wrought by moderation. Sylvia, whom "all the swains commended," is presented
as a hard-featured person of mature age, with the severe figure which Pre-Raphaelitisni
affected. As for poor Julia, who stands in her page's dress, with her thin, loose-
stockinged legs thrust out straight before her, she is a white-eyelashed damsel of such
ill favour that the treason of Proteus is explained if not excused. With regard to the
two men, the critics of the day, with their usual unkindness, objected that whatever
the artist had presented in his male figures, he had not given gentlemen of Verona.
Nevertheless, the Valentine is not without dignity, and the whole picture, whatever
its oddities, is worthy of respect for its thoroughly painstaking workmanship.
A more entire admiration must be given to " The Hireling Shepherd " and
" Christian Missionaries taking Refuge in the Hut of a British Family." The former
is a most fresh and sunny landscape, with a curiously far-fetched allegory acted
out by the figures.
Sleepest thou, wakest thou, jolly shepherd?
Thy sheep are in the corn.
But for one blast of thy minikin mouth,
Thy sheep shall take no harm.
The shepherd in this delightful English landscape is a round-faced Englishman
in a smock frock, who is dallying with an iigly siren of the fields while his
sheep are going astray. The manner of his dalliance is queer enough. He has
caught a death's-head moth, which he shows her in half superstitious fear. She
sits with a young lamb in her lap, and feeds it with green apples. The flock
is bursting through a weak fence into the standing corn. The song in " Lear "
implies that the corn will hurt the sheep rather than the sheep the corn ; but
Mr. Holman Hunt should have taken Pre-Raphaelite counsel with a farmer, who
would have told him that his wheat is much too young to disagree with the
flocks of the hireling. Even so far the allegory seems elaborate enough. Biit Mr.
Holman Hunt goes on to explain what no one would have discovered that the
picture was painted in rebuke of the religious trivialities which he believed to be
WILLIAM HOLM AN HUNT. 169
prevalent in England about the year 1851. The whole technique of the picture is
a great advance in ease and completeness over the earlier works we have men-
tioned above. And far better still is " The Christian Missionaries," in which a
power of colour is developed not a violence of colour, but a pure strong harmony,
worthy of Perugino or almost any of the Pre-Raphaelites who were Pre-Raphael-
ites indeed. The story is told with a curious emphasis and explanation, also
decidedly Italian and "early." The missionaries, Orientals who have pushed on
through Home to Rome's remote possessions, have been preaching to the people
amid a group of Druidical monuments; there has risen an emeute, and the dark
pale-faced Syrians are flying before an angry mob. This is seen through the
windows of the hut, which is entirely open on the side nearest to the spectator,
a stream forming its protection. One missionary is in the act of being overtaken
in a field ; the other is hidden in the hut, and the family of British converts arc
ministering to him in his exhaustion. They bathe his feet, and take the brambles
from his robe, and pour out water for his refreshment, their fairness contrasting with
the worn Eastern face. And here again we are constrained to find fault, to which
we are challenged by the precision and truthfulness of Mr. Holinan Hunt's school.
He has painted his Britons from modern English models, averring that we have
no reason to suppose that the race has changed greatly. Obviously, in painting
from his contemporaries, he should have sought his sitters in Wales. He has
given us, in fact, a family of fair-haired old-English, and not a family of Britons.
But, for exquisite beauty of detail, especially in the foreground growths of water-
plants, and for serious and high qualities of colouring, this picture remains one of
the painter's best achievements.
" The Missionaries " has, moreover, a quality of dramatic expressiveness which
is wanting to the illustration of "Measure for Measure," " Claudio and Isabella"
of about the same time. As usual, the subject is here thoroughly and inge-
niously thought out ; but there is an indefinable effeminacy and triviality in the
Claudio, and a certain tameness in the Isabella which does not accord with
Shakespeare's records of her peculiarly vigorous, voluble, and energetic virtue.
Claudio is shackled in his prison ; his love of life and his careless youthfulness are
typified by the ribbon-decked lute hung up, and by the tree which is all in blos-
som at his window, outside in the happy world lie is loth to leave. He has
just spoken his cowardly hesitation, and his sister stands erect in her novice's dress
and rebukes him. The feeble youth has curled up one leg in token of vacillation.
Surely, while the young Pre-Raphaelites were allowing themselves such irritating
effeminacies as this, it was not strange that robustious public opinion should be
led into presumptuously and cruelly condemning them wholesale, mingling good
and bad qualities in undiscrirninating dislike.
That rash public and press opinion, nevertheless, was beginning at about this
period (1853) to reconsider its impatient verdict. Three of the pictures just
described won modest prizes at Liverpool and Birmingham. And now arose the
ISABELLA AND THE POT OF BASIL.
(By Permission of Messrs. 1'ilgeram and Lefevre.)
WILLIAM HOLM AN HUNT. 171
champion who was to fight Holinan Hunt's battles and the battles of Millais in
a manner of warfare they could never have waged for themselves. The most
virile, most original, most intense and expressive English style in modern literature
was put at the service of these young artists by the young lluskin. He found in
them painters altogether after his heart ; in ethics, serious, charging their work
with direct moral intentions ; in Art, gentle and industrious handicraftsmen, devoted
to the facts of Nature, and not concerned with Art's own separate work of inter-
pretation, selection, and rejection ; giving their days and nights to adding finish to
finish. The attitude of mind, the attitude of hand were such as lluskin loved and
approved. His noble enthusiasim for the work of others took fire; and the young
critic stood forth suddenly as the authority whose word was thenceforth to win
at least respect and consideration for all on whose behalf it was spoken. Espe-
cially in the cause of Mr. Holinan Hunt, Mr. liuskin wrote two memorable letters
to the Time*. The English public was more easily reached by the literature of Art
than by Art only, and it received, in a wonderfully universal manner, the words of
Huskin as instruction and guidance. The days of contempt were virtually over
for the Pre-Eaphaelites. With the perversity common to human nature, some of
them, having once gained toleration of their peculiarities, quickly abandoned them.
Mr. Holman Hunt, however, remained absolutely unchanged. Others might hasten,
one by one, to Post-Kaphaelite developments ; he alone has worked, in 1HHO, by the
same methods which he followed in 18 IS.
"The Light of the World" (1S34) lias undoubtedly been one of the most
popular religious pictures in the world. Its symbolism was easy, yet suggestive ;
its motive pathetic ; it pleased the religious sense of the country, and was accepted
as a picture not only religious but devotional. The engraving became famous.
And Mr. liuskin interpreted it with an ingenuity which strikes us now as very
curiously distinct from anything that the schools of Europe would consider artistic.
The very trees (especially the apple trees) of the orchard background are charged
with allusions. The doubt which suggests itself to the modern mind is whether in
painting " The Light of the World " Mr. Holman Hunt was not passing beyond
the range of pictorial art by painting a mere metaphor. " Behold I stand at the
door and knock" was surely spoken with no intention of calling up in the hearers
a mental picture of physical facts. Tn the same way the words, " that fox, Herod,"
neither produce nor are intended to produce the mental picture of an actual fox.
The phrase addresses the intelligence directly, and makes no appeal to mental
vision. Now, when no picture is called up in the imagination, ought a picture to
be called up on canvas ? Is it not materialising a thought which was never meant
to be materialised ? Of course, when an allegory is presented by way of vision, as
in Revelation and some of the Old Testament visions, or by way of allusive fable,
as in the Gospel parables, a picture may be made most legitimately. Here the
picture is a repetition of the strong image presented to the mind. But all such
awkward questioning apart, " The Light of the World " lias singular beauties.
172 THE MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
The expression of the Saviour's face is profound and touching, and humility is
mingled with dignity in the whole meaning of the figure. Mr. Holman Hunt did
not adhere inexorably to the Pre-Kaphaelite principle of rendering one model faith-
fully ; for the face of the Christ he took something from several of his friends, and
much of the expression from the face of a woman, a poetess, whose tender religious
feeling made her part in the work a true laboiir of love. The orchard scene, the
old door, the weeds and the other accessories, were painted with long realistic
study in a garden near Great Marlow. Millais was painting one of his landscape
or garden backgrounds in the same place.
In or about the same year appeared " The Awakened Conscience," which also
had the inestimable benefit of Mr. Kuskin's praise and explanation. Here is pre-
sented a little drama of modern life, in the rendering of which the painter has
dwelt upon details of vulgar comfort and ugly luxury altogether more impossible
(pictorially) than the utmost squalor. In a little London drawing-room, furnished
as drawing-rooms of commonplace people were furnished in 1854, " a trivial, heed-
less man is playing the notes of an old air which rouses the sleeping moral
sense of the girl whom he has entrapped." Bather melodramatically, " Oft in
the stilly night" touches her remembrances so keenly that she starts up from
the man's side in horror. He tries to detain her with a careless hand as he
touches the notes without removing his gloves. As we have said, the interior,
which is intended to be rather elegant, is inevitably profoundly vulgar, and the
painter has dealt with it in his usual uncompromising manner.
Impelled by that strong sympathy for religioiis themes which his brush always
manifests, Hunt after this betook himself to the East, and with the same enter-
prise and disregard of difficulties which he has ever displayed, commenced on the
spot the study of the scenery and facts which make up the background and sur-
roundings of Biblical history. The mysterious and weird region of the Dead Sea
for the first time found a pictorial exponent, and with "The Scapegoat," standing
on its salt-encrusted marshy marge, we had the principal result of that visit to the
Holy Land. The vivid if crude colour and rigid truthfulness which characterised
the painting of microscopic detail on former canvases were equally exhibited here,
and the great beauty of that portion of the landscape which consisted of the
mountain-range of Moab under the gorgeous effect of an Eastern evening light
compensated, even in the eyes of the stoutest opponents of the new school, for
much that was unquestionably ugly in the picture. Moreover, it was not meant to
be beautiful as the world usually understands beauty. The outcast goat, driven
into the wilderness by the stones of all who should chance to see it, sinking
exhausted and famished in the salt marsh, is not intended to delight the eye in
any way ; but assuredly with its awful significance it touches the heart. Without
violating the limitations of animal expression, the painter has made the unhappy
creature look not merely hungry, or thirsty, or hunted, but burdened with evil. He
has certainly realised to the fulness the mysterious type, and no one can look at
WILLIAM HOLM AN HUNT.
this solemn canvas without realising it also. Mr. Kuskin, in his "Academy Notes,"
glorified the artist. Three minor works, "The Sphinx," "Jerusalem hy Moonlight,"
and " A View looking towards the Mountains of Moah," were also the outcome of
One of the fruits of a second visit to the East was seen at the lloyal Academy
in 18G1, in the " Lantern-maker's Courtship," a quaintly humorous exposition of a
street scene in Cairo, where a young workman is manipulating the face of his
betrothed over the veil, or yashmak, which hides from view all hut her eyes.
But this time Mr. Jlolman Hunt dwelt long in Jerusalem, and devoted himself
THE DISC 1 II* I. INF. OF PAIN.
(I-'rrim it Drawing on H'ml.)
to one of the principal works of his life, "The Finding of the Saviour in the
Temple." This picture introduced into the painting of Scripture subjects the same
kind of realism and study of facts which the Pre-Kaphaelites had insisted upon in
all the scenes they had presented. Scripture had before been painted according,
more or less, to Occidental reading; Mr. Hohnan Hunt began to paint it Orientally.
He tried on the very spot to conjure up the very scene ; and the result was revolu-
tionary. The tradition of the religious art of many centuries had so formed the
habits and tastes of people that the kind of truth sought by Mr. Hunt truth to
fact almost shocked them as a novelty and almost an irreverence. The interior
of the Temple in this picture is treated with rather more than the artist's cus-
tomary insistence upon detail, near and distant. The workmanship is perfectly
wonderful, whether in the traceries which show against the evening sky or in the
faces of the doctors in their varying degrees of age, from the dark-bearded and
keen-eyed disputant to the old man blind from age and unable to see the face of
174 THE MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
the Boy who has surprised and startled their learning. They sit, ranged with their
rolls in their hands, and the young Saviour stands hesitating, eager to stay, yet
willing to obey the Mother who urges him tenderly. He plays with the end of
His girdle, His eyes looking thoughtfully away out of the picture. The Virgin and
St. Joseph have entered the Temple with their garments girded and the dust of
the roads on their feet ; the opening of the doors at their siidden coming has let
in some wandering doves which a woman is trying to drive out again with her
long scarf. The Virgin presses her face close to that of her Son to whisper her
question. The whole picture, if looked at in detail through a lens, would pro-
bably reveal only a greater minuteness of miniature work ; nevertheless the colour
is kept pure and intense. A small study, finished up to the extreme point of
what is possible to human eyesight, was exhibited in 1886 in London, but the
original picture is rather jealously guarded by its possessor. At its first exhibi-
tion in 1862 it drew numbers to Bond Street; for by this time Mr. Holman
Hunt's relations with the Academy had ceased to be very cordial, if they could
ever have been so described. It would indeed be impossible to imagine a man
more out of sympathy with a crowded scrambling annual selling show than this
devoted painter, who considers six years in the sun and solitude of Jerusalem not
too great a sacrifice to make for the sake of a serious offering to religious art.
Other Eastern subjects, notable amongst them " The After-Glow," together with
"Isabella and the Pot of Basil," the result of a lengthened stay in Italy and of
earnest study of Florentine art, and some strangely-wrought portraits, all distinguished
by the painter's addiction to facts as he sees them, served, at very irregular intervals,
to keep the name of Holman Hunt before the world till 1873. "The After-Glow "
was a very hard study of that wondrous effect of Egyptian climate ; a young Fellah
woman, carrying sheaves on her head, stands full face, with some calves at her side.
"Isabella" is shown in the solitude of night, just arisen from her sleepless bed in
the rich chamber of her Florentine home, leaning with her arm cast over the pot
wherein her basil grows green and vigorous over the buried head of her lover. Tears
are in her e}^es, and her whole action shows abandonment of grief. Mr. Holman
Hunt has chosen a rather heavy, dark, and robust, and yet not altogether Italian,
type for the model of his heroine. Another scarcely-remembered picture belonging
to this time was that of a seamstress or shopwoman kneeling at her morning prayers
before setting out from her solitary lodging for the day's work. The painter
intended to render a tribute to perfectly obscure piety and privation the unknown
virtue that comes and goes in our cities without praise or pity.
In 1873 Mr. Holman Hunt returned from another long stay in Jerusalem with
one of the greatest pictures of ' his life "The Shadow of the Cross." Its greatness
cannot be denied, however strongly a critic may differ from its methods, or even
from its artistic aims. It is great of its kind and in its own way. The leading
idea is ingenious and the ingenuity seems serious and suggestive to some minds,
puerile to others. There is no dogmatising as to that. The Saviour is supposed
WILLIAM IWLMAN HUNT. 175
to have been at work throughout the day, sawing aud planing in His carpenter's
workshop, and as the evening draws on, He lifts Himself to look towards the sun,
whose setting is the signal of repose. It is the hour when all Syrian workmen sing
their song, in which the sun is bidden to hasten and go down quickly. They look
to the west, "desiring the shadow," as the Scripture has it, In raising Himself
from the saw, Christ casts up His arms to relieve the strain of labour, and the shadow
upon the wall behind Him takes the shape of a man crucih'ed. The Virgin is
kneeling, with her back turned to the spectator, looking into the chest in which
she has kept the gifts of the three kings of the Epiphany. Looking up from these
tokens of prophecies of glory, she is startled by the prophecy of woe wbich meets
her in that ominous shadow. Her figure is mean and trivial almost beyond
description. But in the face and figure of the Saviour Mr. llolman Hunt lias made
a strange and great success. Strange, because he has departed from the tradition of
fair and princely lineage in Christ's family, presenting merely a bronzed Syrian
workman, and yet has made no compromise of dignity. The face lias an expression
of spiritual yearning which absorbs the mere physical fatigue. It is altogether a
lovely and worthy expression. The figure is in the strong and intensely-coloured
sunshine of evening; and in its study the artist spent himself in most strenuous
labour. In order to get the short effect of the time, he took his model evening
by evening on the roof of a house. All the energy of a day was as it were
concentrated in the tense effort of the sunset hour. It was boisterously windy
weather, the sunsets were often cloudy or in some way wrong, and the painter
had the elements against him. Also it was with difficulty that he obtained models
at all, the Mohammedans, for instance, having religious scruples as to sitting.
The painting of "The Shadow of the Cross" took much of Mr. llolman Hunt's
life not in time only, but in health, strength, and spirit. As we have said, opinion
is much divided as to this picture. That it has had trivial criticism is not to be
wondered at. All Pre-Baphaelites insist upon fidelity to little facts ; and it is not
strange that press and public should express surprise that after a day's sawing
the workshop should be filled with shavings (prismatically tinted, and so elaborated
that a year's work may have been spent on them), but that there should not bo
so much as a pinch of sawdust. A truly great picture such as this should not be
subjected to such remarks, but the school has brought them on itself.
Twelve years (chiefly spent in the East) elapsed before Mr. Holman Hunt
gave another very important picture to the world. "The Plight into Egypt" has
not been a popular success. The painter's intentions required explanation, and his
allusions were somewhat intricate. Nevertheless, in making of the souls of the
Holy Innocents a kind of guard of honour for the Infant Saviour in His flight,
the artist certainly conceived a beautiful idea. And to this work, as to its pre-
decessors, he has given mind and soul, strength and vigour and labour, with six
years at least of his devoted and single-hearted life.
JEAN LOUIS ERNEST MEISSONIER.
OFTEN an originator, whether in large matters or in small,
receives this paradoxical injustice at the hands of fate-
that his productions bear in the eyes of the world any cha-
racteristic except novelty, any merit except freshness. His
imitators, if they can rob him of nothing else, will rob him
of these ; and such inasmuch as he is the originator in
quite modern times of what may be called the microscopic
genre has been the fortune of M. Meissonier. A small school
of followers less conspicuoiis in the last ten years than they
had been for some time previously have carried out what
(K/vm the I'litHtixg t J. L. K. Utlaonitr. /( 1'ermtaion o/ MM. K. Ltaulrt et CU.)
JEAN LOUIS KKXEfiT MEISSOMEll.
he has begun in the way of minute perfection, never surpassing him in his own
inimitable quality of bold neatness of execution, but (in the person of M.
We have spoken of him as
Domingo) outdoing him in the matter of colour,
originating microscopic genre
in our own times ; of course
those completest of artists,
the Dutchmen Gerard Domv,
Metxu, and Terburg, have
painted in altogether a dif-
ferent spirit with all the
detailed finish of Meissonier,
but hardly ever perhaps on
so small a scale, and never
with (hat altogether free and
dexterous touch which so
peculiarly distinguishes his
work. The Dutch manner
was more purely and simply
imitative of Nature, the quality
of the execution in the finest
Dutch examples being so per-
fect that neither the paint
nor the artist's handling of
the paint makes itself sensible
or apparent, whereas in M.
Meissonier's work, although
the dexterity is by no means
obtrusive, there is no such
effacement. His minuteness
then is, or was, all his own.
A lover of the " infinitely
little," he is one of the most
masculine of painters a painter indeed too masculine for sweetness of form or
tenderness of manner ; he is never weak, but then also he is never lofty ; never
trite, never pretty, never vulgar, never thoughtful, never pathetic. None of
the modern seekers after poetry in art can have anything in common with
him, for the mystical, the intense, and the subtle, do not exist in his work ;
nor has be anything in common with the lover of sentiment. The general intelli-
gent admiration of his painting is not likely to be ever lessened by anything
difficult in the character or expression which he represents ; in his characters he
is full of energetic and powerful distinctness, and in his expressions he is insistent
and broad. His subjects also are such as command the general interest ; martial
PermiMion >/ MM. E. Itaulrt et Cit.)
178 THE MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
tenue and equipments, courtly little scenes of the last century, passages of recent
military history these bits of commonplace, combined with character and costume,
are such as succeed in pleasing at once the many and the few. The latter, who
have no delight in lenses and no special passion for the minute in painting, find a
more educated pleasure in the breadth, the space, and the ease which he intro-
duces into the tiniest frame. M. Edmoiid About said that he " stowed fifty
French guards, full of life and movement, into a space where two cockchafers
would not have room to stir." This quality of largeness the artist is said to
preserve by invariably designing and composing in life-size, and by free, vigorous,
and rapid sketching in chalk of the first conception of a figure. It is in his faces
especially that this admirable largeness is most noticeable ; into the minute features
of some veteran of the First Empire he contrives to introduce not only free,
angular, and broad drawing, but a character, a past, a history and all as it were
at leisure, at ease, and with room to spare. As a colourist he undoubtedly, in
the eyes of those who love beautiful colour, leaves something to be desired, but
he is a master of tone.
M. Meissonier's artistic biography is a record of altogether unvaried good
fortune, honour, and success. It is now a long record, the artist having been
born at Lyons in or about the year 1813. He began his studies at a very early
age, of course in Paris, and equally of course under the master of his choice, M.
Leon Cogniet. His success, as soon as he emerged from his state of pupilage,
was immediate ; and he was in his mature years established as one of the repre-
sentative, expressive, and typical talents of the Second Empire. Whatever may
be M. Meissonier's present attachment to the Kepublic, it was under a military
empire that his gifts found their fittest development, and hi the Emperor himself
he had an admirer and an enthusiastic patron. His debut, however, dates back to
a time before the Coup d'Etat, having taken place in the year 1836, when he
exhibited " The Little Messenger." From that day his fame steadily increased
until it reached the point of eminence which it has steadily held. His pictures
at the Salon never fail to attract their crowd year by year, and decade by decade,
while such of his precioiis canvases as make their way to Pall Mall or Bond Street
find an equal enthusiasm, "The Fight" being, perhaps, the best known and most
popular amongst us and with reason, for it belongs to our reigning family through
the graceful gift of the late Emperor to the Prince Consort. The picture repre-
sents, as our readers are probably aware, a sudden and passionate quarrel outside
a wine-shop ; the combatants are tearing away from the hands of the bystanders
in order to get at each other's throats, and hardly ever in the whole history of art
has movement in its impulse, directness, and sincerity, been more energetically
rendered ; both men mean what they are doing, nor are their companions playing
at holding them back, for the "principals" have drawn their knives, and a moment
will bear the decision of life or death. This wonderful picture, be it remembered,
was produced by a pencil which had been almost entirely devoted to subjects of
JEAN LOUIS ERNEST MElRSOXIKli. 179
repose. A curious anecdote is told of the painting of " The Rixe," " The Fight,"
or " The Tavern Row," however we may translate it. Meissonier would not paint
the figures in the impetus of the struggle without having seen them, not in
semblance, but in truth. The rage could not be brought into the studio, but the
real action must be there. Meissonier found a strong fellow, and induced him, by
a liberal tip, to go down to the studio every day and struggle in the grasp of
three others as strong as himself. The man did it ; but the positions were so
intensely fatiguing that he could never sit, or rather stand, for more than ten
minutes at a time. "While he was working himself up to imminent apoplexy
Meissonier was busy witli his pencil. Some few years after the man died very
suddenly, and the artist has an uneasy feeling not at all well founded that he
was remotely the cause of death. Napoleon III. was reproached for giving Ibis
masterpiece to an alien. "Why," it was said, "could he not have presented the
Prince with a jewel or a horse'.' A picture by Meissonier is unique, and France
is impoverished without remedy by its loss." Nevertheless, one of the largest
owners of Meissoniers is an American, but an American who keeps his treasures
in Paris Mr. Hood Stewart, whose collection comprises also the finest of Fortuny's
works and the most brilliant of Madra/o's.
Another celebrated out-of-door work is " The Game at Bowls," and yet
another, " The Portrait of the Sergeant," a brilliant study of a ligure in light.
"Napoleon TIT. at Solferino " was the result of the Italian campaign which M.
Meissonier made with the Imperial army for artistic purposes; this picture and
"The Emperor and his Staff" represent him in the collection of works by living
French artists at the Palace of the Luxembourg. When the Kmpire which he had
illustrated was unwittingly drawing to a close, the great artist again followed the
army, this time to the ill-fated fortress of Met/, where he barely escaped sharing
the fortunes of the siege by a timely flight to Paris. After this he served as a
volunteer until the final peace, sharing in this the patriotism of Regnault, De Neiiville,
and so many less celebrated but no less valiant artists.
M. Meissonier's conscientiousness is satisfactorily obvious, and proverbial
throughout Europe. Those who are inclined to appraise a painter's work by trans-
lating its value into its price are fond of telling us at what rate the wonderful
French miniaturist in oils works by the square inch ; the result of the calcula-
tion lias escaped our memory, but wo believe it shows a sum so considerable
that if any one had a fancy for setting a little bit of Meissonier in a ring or scarf-
pin, as an enthusiastic artist once wished he could set small pieces of Titian's or
Tintoretto's colour, the result would be a jiarure almost as costly as if it were
composed of precious stones instead of precious paints.
Nothing like a catalogue of his works is possible here, so numerous are they ;
but a glance at the prices which a few of them have realised may interest our
readers. We translate the francs, and in many cases the dollars, into pounds
sterling. "The Amused Cavalier" (7 centimetres by 5) sold in New York for
THE MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
THE VISIT TO THE STUDIO.
620; "A Dream" for 833; "Soldiers
at Cards" (8 centimetres by 10) for
2,300 ; The Cavalry Charge " for
6,250; "Marshal Saxe and his Staff"
(8 centimetres by 9) for 1,720; and
the picture called "1807" was bought
by the late Mr. Stewart, of New York,
for a sum exceeding 12,500. The last-
named work a striking example of ex-
treme conscientiousness, combined with a
lack of dramatic imagination shows a
charge of cuirassiers at what was pro-
bably (for the laconic title does not
exactly inform us) the battle of Fried-
land. M. Meissonier was not satisfied
with watching the action of cavalry in
the momentary manner with which most
artists are obliged to content them-
selves ; he had a tramway laid down,
along which he was propelled at
the same rate of speed as that
of a horse which charged at his
side ; the artist, keeping up with
his model, was able to observe
every movement of muscle and
sinew. In spite, however, of
these infinite pains, the stationary
group of " The Emperor and his
Staff," drawn up on a neighbour-
ing eminence, is more excellent
in truth and nature as regards
the horses at least than that of
the cuirassiers. What is admir-
able in the latter is the action
of the men, who cheer and salute
with real impulse, swiftness, and
intensity. This is a true picture
of war, painted without blood-
IX THE GUAHD-HOUS2.
JEAN LOUIS ERNEST MEISSONIER. 181
shed, yet without conventionality or insincerity. Another instance of this great
artist's laborious observations from Nature is to be found in " The lie treat of
Napoleon after tbe Leipsic Campaign." M. Meissonier is said to have contracted
a severe complaint in making his studies from horses which were led to and fro
for hours through depths of snow and mud. His reward is that lie has drawn
a group walking with more truth of action and movement than can perhaps be
found in any other picture in the world. It is true that since this was painted
Art has been much enlightened, and much worried, by the instantaneous combi-
nations of photography which show the horses' movements as they are, and not
as deluded men have imagined that they saw them. The revelation is so un-
expected and revolutionary ami distressing, that there will be for some time a
pause in important paintings of horses galloping or leaping. Ilappilv, the walk had
for some time been better understood; several painters, chiefly l-'reiich, had been
painting the truth courageously; but then the truth of a walking horse is bv no
means grotesque, as the truth of a galloping or leaping horse is to our eyes, it
only looks slightly awkward at iirst to the unaccustomed. Meissonier's eminent
merit is that not only has he the movements correct to precision, but he renders
the impulse, as it were, the muscular initiative that regulates the movement, as
none but a first-class draughtsman could feel it.
It is not 'tiuil a jirojion to supplement our own appreciation with that of a
singularly just and delicate American critic Mr. Eugene Benson who is an
equally just and delicate painter. He says: "The little and marvellously elaborated
pictures of which Meissonier is still the supreme master in France were unknown
as an object to .French painters before Meissonier won so much consideration for
his successful efforts to represent Nature as seen through the small end of a
telescope." But we may pause to remark on Mr. Benson's curious fallacy, which
an artist could fall into only by heedlessness, that in painting small, Meissonier
paints smaller than he sees with the naked eye. In Art, si/e does not exist
except as a relative thing; that is, it exists merely as xctilr. Meissonier had no
need to use the small end of a telescope (to take our author literally) when the
whole panorama of heaven and earth was drawn upon the space of his human
eye ! " His aim," proceeds Mr. Benson, " was a reaction against the dominant
masters of his line ; by his indefatigable, tenacious talent, his microscopic; vision, he
was enabled to surpass the Dutch masters in everything but colour. Every form
of excellence in Art appeared to have been illustrated in French painting but
that of the Dutch school: great political tragedies in Delarochc ; military events
in Vernet ; the drama of the passions in Delacroix; classic art in Ingres; the
ideas, fancy, beauty, imagination, pastoral Art all in a style more or less in
direct descent from the great examples of Italian or classic Art. Meissonier,
without an idea, without a passion, without anything but a wonderfully trained
hand and an uncommon perception of actual objects, applied himself to produce
pictures that should ' flabbergast ' a public tired of emotions and ideas and revolts,
182 THE MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
but interested in everything mechanical and laborious and obviously conscientious.
He may be said to be a Dutch painter plus the instruction of the photograph.
He was not a pupil of 1'Ecole des Beaux Arts ; and yet no painter of the
Imperial school has carried further the science of his Art, and none is better
instructed in the technical means to reach the object of his work." Mr.
Eugene Benson goes on to say things that are rather severe, 'to the effect that
Meissonier's pictures interest the mind like clockwork, like the weaving of
Egyptian linen, like photographs, like any fine and successful exhibition of the
mechanical talent. But in truth and in justice the skill mental skill of judg-
ment, selection, and method, and visual skill in seeing pictorially, as well as mere
manual skill of a painter producing a picture like Meissonier's is of an altogether
different order from the skill of the weaver or clockmaker. There is, indeed, a
kind of art which is merely handicraft carried farther; that is to be found in
some of the detail work of miniature painters and of the Pre-Kaphaelites of forty
years ago; for there we find no pictorial necitig, and no selection or rejection of
material. But Mr. Benson's criticism is more to the point when he reproaches
Meissonier with giving "no place to woman" in his works. It seems that hardly
more than once in his pictures lias he represented the female figure. But we would
not dwell upon a deficiency which is in a manner a sign of strength. M. Meissonier
draws men with a kind of athletic vigour in his little touches which might well be
envied by some of our idyllic school. For one Meissonier who paints no women
we can name three or four Englishmen who paint no men, and for reasons less
creditable to their power. But while we are on this subject, it was surety a
strange freak by which a rich American lady chose this painter from all the ladj r -
painting artists of Paris to make her portrait. The result was a famous quarrel,
about which many fables have been told, but the simple truth of which is that the
lady was not pleased witli the picture, and does not show it in her house, and that
M. Meissonier received his cheque without the usual accompaniment of praise and
Meissonier has produced a small number of etchings, of which the proofs are
extremely rare. They are executed with even a finer point than is generally used
by etchers a veritable "needle." But the effect is large, as with the work of
the same hand in painting, and the presentation of surfaces full of fineness and
character. The principal etchings are "The Holy Table," "The Violin," "Prepara-
tions for the Duel," " Polichinelle," and "Signer Aunibale." This medium of
artistic expression is well fitted by its precision to show the admirable solidity of
the drawing, the turn by which the sure line makes us feel the other side of an
object and the completeness of the perspective. As to Meissonier's vigour in pre-
senting gestures with all the truth and significance of life, and the sure hold on
the earth which by this strong drawing he gives to all legs and feet painting and
etching equally display these delightful qualities.
We have all made a thorough acquaintance with the artist's house as understood
JEAN LOUIS ERNEST MEIS80NIER.
in England; in M. Meissouier's hotel near the Pare Mouccau we have au artist's
house after the manner of Paris, and perhaps the most complete of its kind. The
quarter in which it stands is dear to successful art, literature, and drama. Many
great Frenchmen have kept the simple tastes and the unworldly ways which
distinguished French genius for some
generations. But when an artist
does wish to build him self a lordly
pleasure-house, he builds it not far
from the Boulevard Malesherbes and
the Avenue de Yilliers. The palaces
there are accordingly various -
Moorish, Swiss, Spanish, or what
not; Meissonier's abode is altogether
Italian Renaissance. Its chief ex-
terior character is the absolutely
precise joining and lilting, for it WHS
bis hobby to have stone laid upon
stone throughout the construction
with as much perfection as a joiner
achieves in a delicate bit of inlaying.
The large courtyard within the car-
riage gates opens on to an arched
terrace a "loggia," which suggests
Italian sun. From the courtyard,
too, a columned vestibule and a
staircase lined with fine carvings
lead to the enormous studio in which
the little pictures are painted or
rather where they are supposed to
bo painted, for M. Meissonier does
his work most frequently in a smaller
room adjoining. The large atelier has
the dimensions of a state assembly-
room rather than of an ordinary
hall, even though intended for public
purposes. Its walls are panelled with
carving, like the staircase. From the studio wo may walk out on a terrace, which,
in the Italian manner, forms the roof of the arcade below. In the whole design,
and in every part in the back staircase and in the stables as well as in the grand
approach and the state rooms the style has been entirely preserved, no ornament
being out of date, while the effects of outline by which the Renaissance architects
made their best successes have been specially studied. In all this the artist and
T II I'. VEDETTE
JEAN LOUIS ERNEST MEISSONIER.
owner has been his own architect, furnishing designs not only for the whole con-
struction, but for every cornice and moulding, for every bit of architectural " detail,"
and for every cupboard door. It was altogether an occupation of years, which
divided his time with his easel work. As it stands, the hotel is a monument to a
great painter's liberal knowledge in another art, to his devotion to the idea of
entirely perfect workman-
ship, and to his determi-
nation to have his heart's
desire. Though the style
is by no means a solemn
one, there is undoubtedly
something almost of so-
lemnity in the slow, solid,
and delicate construc-
tion, stone by stone, of a
house into literally every
inch of which an artist's
deliberate and thoughtful
care has entered, and
which will stand if time
alone attacks it -- for
many generations with-
out the displacement, by
so much as a half-inch
of " settling," of a single
course of its masonry.
M. Meissonier has,
besides this Paris palace,
a country house at Poissy,
which has been well de-
scribed in the World.
"Here," says the writer,
" he lives in the summer-
time with his son, who
is now out in the world of art, for his neighbour. There are two studios at
Poissy, one at the top of the house, the other adjoining the stable, for use in
inclement weather. At Poissy Meissonier is something more than an artist a
municipal ruler, and he is believed to aspire to the high office of mayor. He
missed it on one occasion by an unfortunate dispute with his colleagues. What-
ever he may have been at one period of his life, he is now understood to be
a very good Kepublican. But there are men living who believe they have seen him
in the cocked hat and green embroidery of some office of honour under the Empire.
186 THE MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
They may be mistaken. He made quite a gallant stand against the authors of the
' 16th May,' when their restrictions on the freedom of the press threatened to deprive
him of his daily paper. The salon at Poissy has those quaint little square windows
which so often figure in the backgrounds of his pictures. He built the country
house as he built the house in town, and lie fitted it up with artistic luxuriance,
designing most of the furniture himself, notably the silver services of the table.
Each place has cost him something in millions. The bill for the house in Paris
has been augmented by his resolution to have all the work of the very best. He
takes a peculiar pride in the thoroughness of the mechanical part of it. This is a
costly pleasure, or, say, an ingenious device for getting rid of superfluities of fortune.
Without Poissy and Paris poor Meissonier might be troubled by too-rapidly-
accumulating millions. It is estimated that he has at least two of these numerical
burdens on his shoulders in the shape of unfinished commissions in his studio at
this present time."
In these beautiful abodes Meissonier's life is extremely simple. He has his
son for his most intimate friend, his married daughter for his most frequent hostess,
and new acquaintances are said to have been generally discouraged by his shyness.
A French writer has expressed his surprise at finding so famous a man diffident,
nervous, and showing signs of depression which were less for anything in his own
lot than for the then comparatively recent misfortunes of his country. In fact,
Meissonier lias made those disasters his own by a nn'if and innocent kind of vanity
quite peculiar to the artistic, or, rather, to the painter's, temperament. The
English writer above quoted says, with an amusing exaggeration: "He cannot
altogether dissociate the German invasion from a suspicion of German jealousy of
his works. The Germans had not only a grudge against France on the Rhine
question, but they had a grudge against Meissonier as one of the glories of French
art. They could not forgive him his masterpieces, and so they came to Paris.
They won their great victories for the malicious pleasure of depriving him of a
subject. He had followed the Italian campaign under Napoleon III. to get materials ;
and when this last and fatal struggle broke out he set forth with the army that
was finally shut up at Metz. He shared the light heart of M. Ollivier until the
Germans began to gather round Bazainc, and then his friends began to fear he
would have to share the captivity of the army. The officers saw the full extent of
the danger, and implored him to remove from a situation to which he was bound
by no obligation of duty."
For some time the world was threatened with a result of the painter's patriotic
feeling and experiences in the shape of a great allegorical picture, in which prostrate
France, with the body of the young artist, Eegnault, across her breast, was to be
bleeding under the talons of a German eagle. We say "threatened" because this
kind of rhetorical art, which such an allegory represents, is altogether opposed to
Meissonier's sincere and strenuous power. Nor would it be worthy of his dignity
to enter upon colossal painting as a reply to the carpers who have declared that he
JEAN LOUIS ERNEST MEISSOMEIl. 137
could not paint unless lie painted small. Nevertheless, like most artists. who are
artists de temperament, he is sensitive to slighting remarks of that nature. He has
even now and then chosen the motives of his pictures with the object of silencing
them. It had heen said, for instance, that he could paint individuals and incidents,
hut that he was incapable of historical work in any great sense work that worthily
renders nations and periods. Meissonier's answer was his "Diderot," which did iu
fact give the age of the Encyclopaedists in the group of readers and listeners to a
new piece of the eighteenth-century literature. Moreover, when it was said that
Meissonier could not paint out of doors that ordeal of the modern French talent-
he was moved to produce his " Portrait of the Sergeant," where the figure is in
the open air, surrounded, involved, and overflowed with daylight. As to si/e, the
largest canvas we know of Meissonier's having ever painted is the " Choix du Modele,"
still a small picture for anybody else.
One of M. Meissonier's artistic hobbies is in bis choice of models. He has a
theory, which we would recommend to the attention of other painters, that each
period of the world's history lias developed its own specialised type ; and that an
artist who iixes upon a certain epoch of the past for illustration should wait until
he gets a model who has by chance "reverted"' (to borrow a word from Darwinism) to
the type desired. In planning an eighteenth-century subject, you should look about
for an eighteenth-century face, and if you cannot iind one, let the subject stand over.
Furthermore, says Meissonier in effect, having got your eighteenth-century man,
and given him an eighteenth-century occupation, leave him to take his own attitude
or strike his own action ; he will do it in the right way, for the physique, as we all
know, suggests the pose. Men with a certain shape of shoulders, for instance, take
attitudes which men made otherwise would never fall into. But a difficulty arises.
A right position for the model's occupation is not always a pictorial position, or
right for the painter's composition. What is the artist to do ? To dictate to his
model, and interfere with that eighteenth-century impulse which is so valuable ?
Nine hundred and ninty-nine painters out of a thousand would answer Yes. Or
it would be more just to say that all the painters in the world, except M. Meissonier,
would answer Yes. Meissonier, however, insists that the artist is bound to be patient,
to wait, to dodge round his model in ceaseless and unwearying watchfulness until
the right 2 )ose i R taken up naturally. If he merely puts a man to play chess, he
must let the man play chess in precisely his own way until the movement is hit which
suits the picture. Another difficulty ; too often the right attitude becomes fatigued,
and loses its freshness and impetus after a few moments of real sitting. In order
to keep that first irrecoverable touch of nature, Meissouier takes a rapid sketch of
the model first of all a slight, stenographic kind of sketch, in which, nevertheless,
the sure hand of the draughtsman makes the lines absolutely right. From this
sketch, full of vitality as it is, and with the help of reference to the sitter, Meissonier
makes a model in wax, and carefully corrects it. From the wax model he draws
the figure on canvas ; and from the sketch, the wax, and the sitter, he completes
188 THE MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
the work. Surely no better way could be devised for keeping the initial freshness
and entrain of the life in combination with the completeness that nothing but
time can achieve. Thus he watches the man, whom he could command, but will
not, just as carefully and patiently as he watches the horse, whose paces no one
can control or force out of the order of Nature. This faculty of observation, which
implies powers of both eye and mind, is one of the chief things that have gone to
the making of Meissonier.
Of the thoroughness which all this argues, the studio in the Paris house
witnesses curious instances. There is now and then a little crowd of dealers and
connaisseurs in the room, bidding against one another like men at an auction, for
the picture which stands unfinished on the easel. Sometimes the dispute waxes
almost into a quarrel, and the master works on unmoved, and in the course of
his labours takes up a palette-knife and wipes away, perhaps, the principal figure
of a group which has been the subject of contention as a thing almost beyond price.
There is a cry of horror. But the master knows precisely why the thing deserved
condemnation at the most critical of bars that of his own sincere judgment ; and
nothing could have saved the work as nothing can restore it.
M. Meissonier's appearance is that of a man who has seen rough service,
whether with the rifle or with the palette in hand. He is weather-beaten, but
the wind and weather have raised more colour in his cheeks than is usual among
his countrymen, and hard work has not thinned his strongly-built, short figure, with
its strong balance and energetic movement. The eyes are singularly full of brilliant
and vivid life, and keep their youth in spite of all signs of age elsewhere. So does
his work, which, after all these years, is the work of a man in his prime.
(From a 7'/H.M[/Hi/>/i by
F we may suppose that the artistic faculty is divided with fair equality
between men and women, experience certainly forbids us to believe that
success in any of the arts lies as readily within the reach of the weaker
as of the stronger sex. Potential artists may, and in fact do, abound
among women, but a thousand causes are at work to prevent the execu-
tive fulfilment of their promises. A poet has ventured to question, or at
to wonder at, the Providence which creates "a vain capacity;" and in
when we consider that unemployed power is not merely a waste but a
of pain to its possessor, we should find it hard to understand the rich,
190 THE MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
significant, and yet abortive gifts which are given to women, if we did not remember
the all-important female vocation of transmission, which may solve the riddle.
That remarkable men have had remarkable mothers is a truism, and those who
repeat it do so without much commiseration for the women of genius who have,
in all time of the world's history, bequeathed their latent art, their science, their
philosophy that is to say, their large capacity for these things to after-times and
to the emancipated executive faculties of their sons. In those rare cases, however,
in which a woman succeeds in her own person, she proves herself to be mistress of
a higher success than would be a man's in the achievement of like results ; and if
she actually roaches an eminence at which the indulgence granted to her weakness
and her obstacles ceases among critics, and when she can permit herself to re-echo
what Mrs. Browning says in one of her letters to Mr. Home "You will plear;e to
recollect that when I talk of women I do not speak of them (as many men do)
according to a separate, peculiar, and womanly standard, but according to the
common standard of human nature " then, indeed, a rich and particular homage
Justice itself may pay to her.
And the lady whose name stands at the head of this article has been exceptionally
weighted, even among a sex so heavily handicapped. Rosa Bonheur had an artist-
father ; Elizabeth Butler and Clara Montalba had their artistic faculty fostered by
the best masters here and abroad, and by the sympathetic taste of their parents,
from their childhood upwards. But Louise Jopling did not learn to draw until she
was twenty-three. During those pliant years which are so precious for training,
her art-talent had been hidden, and was brought to surface only by one of those
apparent accidents to which we owe so many painters, from the days of Giotto until
now. Mrs. Jopling's Cimabue encountered, not on Florentine hills, but in a Paris
salon was the Baroness Nathaniel de Rothschild, herself an artist, some of whose
water-colour work our readers will remember at the Grosvenor Gallery exhibitions.
Mrs. Jopling was wont to make little sketches of her friends, and the Baroness
having seen these, and perceived the power that lay behind them only waiting to be
trained, urged her forthwith to begin artistic work in good earnest ; which she did.
Hitherto the embryo artist's life had been uneventful enough as regards the
outer world. But the personal history of nearly all conspicuous persons is so closely
interwoven with their public careers that its apparently trivial details are often
significant ; and Mrs. Jopling's, when it comes to be written, will probably be found
to have exercised an even more than ordinary influence on her artistic labours and
aims. Born in November, 1843, Louise Goode was one of a family of nine. Early
left an orphan, she became Mrs. Romer before she was out of her teens, her husband
holding the post of secretary to Baron Nathaniel de Rothschild in Paris when the
incidents already related, to which she owes her professional career, so happily
occurred. Taking to heart the hints of her friend, she betook herself to the studio
of M. Chaplin (the master, by the way, of another distinguished lady artist, Henriette
Browne) in the January of 1867. Under his tutelage Mrs. Romer continued for
LOUISE JOPLING. 191
sixteen months, for the first twelve confining herself to drawings, two of which
heads in chalk were exhibited in the Salon of 18G8. After only the final four
months' handling of the brush she returned to England, and there painted her
maiden work, entitled "Consolation," showing two girls, one with her head resting
on the shoulder of the other. This was sent to the Academy, was there marked
"doubtful" by the Selecting Committee, and finally was not hung. Nothing daunted,
the rejected of 1870 tried to be, and was, the accepted of 1871, with her "Bud
and Bloom," a maiden in her early teens carrying a pot of ax.alcas, full blown.
In the same year, acting on the advice of Mr. Frith, who held it to be excellent
practice to portray one's own self, Mrs. Homer painted her own likeness (life-size),
which was exhibited in Bond Street, not far from the spot where, less than ten
years later, her masterly portrait by Mr. Millais attracted its crowd.
Mrs. Homer had risen with almost unexampled rapidity from the rank of the
amateur and the student to that of the proficient and the professional ; and henceforth
she progressed at the same rate. Beginning her course with a run, she has never
slackened her speed, except when illness or bereavement lias forced her to a tem-
porary pause. Each year in succession has its own achievement. In 1S71 Cbeiii"
three years of age, artistically speaking, at the time) she had three pictures in the
Academy. One of these "in Memoriam," showing some flowers scattered on u
pall, bore tender reference to the death of one of the artist's children in that year;
while a second was a charming head, which was painted from her sister, and of
which Mr. Tom Taylor became the possessor a purchase from so eminent an art-
critic fairly taking rank among the successes of Mrs. Homer's early career. In
1872 she had again three pictures at Burlington House, where also she had two
both portraits in the following year.
At this date occurred an event the death of her first husband which, while
it belongs to Mrs. Homer's history as a woman, intimately affects her history as an
artist, throwing her, as it did, more entirely on her own exertion, and augmenting
her professional zeal. Not less important to her art was another domestic event
her second marriage, in 1874, to Mr. Joseph Middleton Jopling, who, though then
holding a post at the Horse Guards, and albeit a crack shot, having won the Queen's
Prize at Wimbledon, the St. .George's, and many other prizes, was known also to the
world as a painter; and if he called himself an amateur in his wife's profession, his
brother artists and the public had long ceased to consider him as such. As a water-
colour painter he held a prominent position, having been for some years a member of
the Water-Colour Institute, at one of whose exhibitions his well-known "Fluffy"
representing a girl, life-size, holding up a dog was par excellence among the drawings
of its year. A little later Mr. Jopling took up caricature, and did regular work for one
of the quasi-comic papers. But for a considerable time he devoted himself to flowers,
with an occasional portrait, Miss Ellen Terry being among his sitters. After some ten
years of marriage Mr. Jopling died almost suddenly, leaving his wife to her second
widowhood, with only one sou living of the many children she had hoped to rear.
Tlie question, "Should artists marry?" has often been asked, especially in the
case of lady artists, without, however, eliciting any uniform or definite answer' Three
Presidents of the Royal Academy have set an example of celibacy Sir Joshua
Reynolds, Sir Thomas Lawrence, and Sir Frederick Leighton. The first of these,
as we all know, not only
practised but somewhat
roughly preached, bache-
lorhood, telling Flaxman,
on his marriage with
Anne Dolman, that he
would be ruined as an
artist. Whether the ill-
natured prediction came
from Reynolds as a re-
jected suitor, who would
have married Angelica
Kauffmann if he could,
we need not stop to
inquire at any rate it
turned out, in the case
of the great sculptor, to
be incorrect. Raphael, it
is true, died unmarried,
at the age of thirty-seven,
but he was an affianced
lover at the time. To
those who are still in
doubt about the right
reply to the vital query,
we would recommend the
perusal of the elder
Leslie's autobiography and
letters, perhaps the hap-
piest record of a married
life yet written; nor do we think it would be difficult to trace an increase of
power, as well as an added industry, in the works of almost all our living artists
who have followed the old poet's prescription for doubling life's joys and halving its
troubles. This prepares us for the fact that from the time of her marriage with one
who shared her own artistic taste, Mrs. Jopling dated an increase in her reputation.
In the Academy of 1874, the year of her second marriage, appeared her first
important subject-picture, the " Five o'Clock Tea," which we engrave. The artist seized
the prevailing fancy for Japanese life, Japanese dress, and Japanese bric-a-brac, and
COLONEL THE EONOCB1H.1 CHAKLH8 Hl'OH LINDSAY.
194 THE MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
turned it to good account on this canvas, every detail of which (except, perhaps,
the character of one or two of the fairer faces) is faithful to the quaint reality,
and as full of local colour as an Oriental scene painted in England can be. The
group is well composed, and the costume so graceful, yet so foreign and fresh
to European ideas of grace is cleverly treated, with well-drawn, broad, and simple
forms of drapery. A smaller work, "La Japonaise," was exhibited at the same
time; and in the following year appeared "Elaine" and "A Modem Cinderella"
a girl who may be supposed to be a painter's model, and who turns her back to
hang up the gorgeous salmon-coloured robe (matched by a little shoe of the same
tint) in which she has been posing. She wears the petticoat and chemise of
every-day life, and her equally commonplace gown lies beside her on a chair.
This picture we remember to have seen catalogued in a comic paper as "A Lady
Artist E.A.-ing Herself." The same year saw the completion of a large canvas,
" The Five Sisters of York," which has since been to the Philadelphia Exhibition,
has received a bronze medal at the Crystal Palace, and was afterwards sent to
Sydney. The subject was taken from an episodic story told in one of Dickens's
books. The five fair damsels are sitting at their fancy-work under the trees of a
sunny and shady orchard, listening with not much docility to the ascetic preaching
of a friar. Two fancy heads and a portrait of Miss de Rothschild, now Mrs. Cyril
Flower, represented Mrs. Jopling at Burlington House in 1876 ; and in 1877
four portraits, one of which, " Colonel the Honourable Charles Lindsay," wearing
armour and a black velvet Henry VIII. cap, is the subject of our smaller illustra-
tion ; while another, "Gertrude, Daughter of George Lewis, Esq.," was a child-
delineation of singular charm, which was subsequently shown at the Salon.
The year 1877 will long be memorable in London as that in which the dream
of a patron of the arts or, rather, we should say two patrons, for Lady Lindsay's
name will be linked with that of her husband in this splendid enterprise found
a fulfilment in the opening of the Grosvenor Gallery. Several fine artists came out
of the retirement by which they had for years protested against the ways of the
Eoyal Academy and the Water-Colour Societies. And many painters, less con-
spicuous in their withdrawal, found in the Grosvenor a field where they showed to
more advantage than in larger crowds. Mrs. Jopling's " It Might Have Been " was
one of the attractions of its first exhibition. It is remarkable for the sweetness
of the face and for the very complete painting of all the accessories of the pretty
room depicted. Also to the Grosvenor, in 1878, she sent her beautiful "Pity is
akin to Love," as well as a portrait of "Miss Evelina de Rothschild" feeding
pigeons. At the Academy Mrs. Jopling was represented by " Weary Waiting,"
a pretty interior, with a lady dreaming over the sketch of an Arctic ship as she
sits in a Chippendale chair, with her sacque tea-gown charmingly arranged, and
her little girl conning picture-books at her feet; and she also painted for Lord
Beaconsfield's gallery a portrait of Sir Nathaniel de Rothschild, which, in deference
to the sitter's wishes, was not publicly exhibited.
"IT WIGHT HAVE U E E N.'
(Prawn on (* H'ou.l l>y Mr,.
196 THE MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
In the following year our artist's Academy picture had one of the pathetic sub-
jects which she has frequently treated ; her " Village Maid " sits by the spring at
which the women of some Southern French hamlet fill their jars. The girl has
set one water-vessel under the little sluice-conducted streamlet, and leans her head
against the other, while her heart is far away, so that the water overfills the pitcher
and runs unheededly away. The simply-drawn figure is made effective by broad
effects in the white draperies, apron, cap, and sleeve-linings. An aloe, growing
behind, tells of the South, as does the dark comeliness of the girl's face. With
this was a striking portrait of Mrs. James Tomkinson. In 1880 came "Ophelia;"
in 1882 a portrait of Sir Robert Anstruther and " Auld Eobin Gray." At the
Grosveuor in the following year Mrs. Jopling exhibited a portrait, to which she
gave the name of " Summer Snow," representing a young and charming woman with
white hair ; the greys throughout in the delicate flesh, in the lace and pearls
with which it was harmonised, and in the hair were very ably treated. In the
same exhibition was a full-length portrait of Miss Ellen Terry as Portia, clad in
her scarlet doctor's gown. The actress stands witli the parchment in her hand,
at the moment when she gives Shylock his last chance, saying, " Bid me tear the
bond." The next year bore the fruit of a visit to Venice, for Mrs. Jopling, after a
season there among a group of busy painters, contributed "From my Gondola" to
the Grosvenor Gallery, with two portraits and an ideal head. And to the same
period, approximately, belongs " A Fair Venetian," in the title of which Mrs. Jopling
intended to draw attention to the blonde hair and fair skin which are familiar among
the Gothic Italians of the North-East. Thus Mrs. Jopling was among the many
painters who of late years have fallen under the spell, half real, half fictitious, of
the famous and much-painted Venetian girl.
" Salome Carrying the Head of St. John the Baptist to her Mother, Herodias,"
was not a dramatic scene, but a study of the single figure of the young woman,
with her arm over the dish, her tambourine in the other hand, and her long, crisp,
red hair tossed over her shoulders. In 1885 Mrs. Jopling sent to the Academy
"Broken Off," a subject of sentiment inspired by the line
"Rich gifts wax poor when givers prove unkind."
Such is, in part, the record of a busy life a record which, even when we have
included frequent contributions to the Dudley Gallery Exhibitions, both in oil and
in water-colours, and to the Ladies' Society, is still incomplete. Nor should we
omit to mention here that the pages of various periodicals have been graced by
papers from Mrs. Jopling's pen, her talent being by no means confined to art, but
extending to literature and to music as well.
THE FARMER'S DAUGHTER.
(From the Painting ly U T . Q. Orckardson, K.A.)
WILLIAM QUILLER ORCHARDSON, K.A.
HEN a British artist develops his own personality steadily, singly, and
naturally, he does so in spite of heavy odds. The system of training
under which he studies is altogether against him. He learns his art
in a school with a motley crowd of fellows, and under a set of
teachers who are motley also ; and precisely hecauso of this confusion of
characters, abilities, and methods, a routine is enforced which, while it
prevents complete artistic anarchy, effectually cramps individual character. In a
crowd of scholars no teacher has the time, and in a crowd of teachers no
teacher lias the interest, to study and foster the learner's personality. Mr. Orchard-
son was subjected when quite young to that national system of art-education which
may be said to drill, but not to discipline, the student. From his earliest years,
however, he had some clear idea of the way he wished to go, and from that way
routine was not able to turn him, although it did succeed in making him suffer the
pains which a by no means self-confident boy must needs endure when he opposes
his masters. He is placed at a disadvantage so great that a very little wit suffices
198 THE MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
to make a really good joke at his expense ; and as all are or have been young, we
need say nothing to our readers as to the sensitiveness of youth to ridicule, witty
or not. Entering the Trustees' Academy at Edinburgh, at the age of fifteen, the
young student set to work with good will and exceptional ability. He must have
felt the irksomeness of the ordinary routine of the place ; for he hastened his own
admission into "the Antique," jumping one of the preliminary stages, an irregu-
larity which was silently condoned. In the Trustees' Academy, as at Burlington
House and elsewhere, the masters teach in rotation, and work at will upon their
pupils' canvases, a habit which is not ill-calculated to confuse the learner's aims
and wishes in the rare chance of his having any such ; while if, like the majority,
he has none, he is at all events convinced of the variations of authorities and the
general fallibility of systems. Mr. Orchardson's early experience in this matter so
impressed him with the necessity for a reform in the national manner of teaching,
that he has, we believe, lately excused himself from being a visitor at our own
Eoyal Academy schools.
It is certain that a young student who should have developed a mannerism
in the days when he could not yet have formed a style, would have been all the
better and none the worse for a fair amount of " chaff" from his instructors. Mr.
Orchardson, however, had no such unwholesome prematurities. He had the primal
artistic gift of seeing nature pictorially a gift which is so great and so sufficient
that it may well take the place of systems and manners and methods of teaching
and learning and his one wish was to be allowed to represent singly, simply, and
straightforwardly what he saw. His art was altogether natural and healthy, and
had no premeditation about it. Precious as a distinct personality is, it is precious
on these terms only.- So unconscious, indeed, was the young artist of the manner
he employed in his direct representation of Nature, that when he exhibited his first
picture at the Eoyal Scottish Academy, and received warm congratulations on every
hand as to its "breadth," lie did not know what the quality was for which he was
receiving so much praise ; and it was only after considering the matter that he
found it consisted simply in distinguishing clearly that which belongs to light from
that which belongs to shade that is, in the sincere painting of things as he saw
them. Here, of course, and unconsciously to the artist himself, his gift of seeing
pictorially was that which stamped his work with "breadth," and with all the other
distinctive merits it possessed.
His first picture was painted during the course of Mr. Orchardson's studies in
the Life class. It was hung on the line, and its success gave the young student
no small encouragement. He continued to exhibit in his native city of Edinburgh
until he had reached the age of about eight-and-twenty, when, in 1863, he made
that move to London by which alone an artist is able to measure himself fairly
with all his fellows of Great Britain. He began his Eoyal Academy career at once
with "An Old English Song" and portraits of three young ladies, followed by
"Flowers of the Forest" and "Hamlet and Ophelia." His first very marked
WILLIAM QUILLER ORCIIA11DSON, R.A. 199
English success was obtained by " Tbe Cliallenge," a picture which gained the
prize offered by Mr. Wallis in 1805, and which was exhibited in the French Gallery
in Pall Mall. By sonic chance Mr. Orchardson scarcely profited by the general
fame which his work commanded ; for the Times gave an eulogium to the brilliant
picture, and spoke of it throughout as Mr. Pettie's ; and the mistake has probably
been the cause of a slight confusion between the works of the two artists (who
were fellow-students before they were fellow Academicians, and always friends),
whereas those works are alike in a few points, but widely different in many.
Mr. Orchardson's place in British art and his name among British artists were
now assured ; and the Paris International of 1807 soon after gave him the oppor-
tunity of gaining something more than insular suffrage. His success in Paris was
signal. Every International Exhibition has of necessity a huge husk of officialism.
Honours are awarded upon a system which is almost political, and certainly diplo-
matic. It is perhaps only given to those upon the spot to find out the heart of
the matter. But the artists and critics of Paris in 1807 knew that there was one
name (among others) not formally only but vitally illustrious; and the half-pux/.led,
half-supercilious attitude which Continental criticism was apt to maintain in face
of English art was exchanged, in Mr. Orchardson's case, for a complete, respectful
cordiality; his most striking picture at Paris being, by the way, that same
"Cliallenge" which had made so brilliant and early a success here. Meantime
his work in England was not flagging. In 180(5 he had exhibited the " Story of
a Life " a .nun recounting her experience to a group of young novices and in
1807, " Talbot and the Countess of Auvergne."
The year 1808 was that of Mr. Orchardson's election to the Associateship of
the Royal Academy, when he painted his "Scene from Shakespeare's 'Henry IV.' 1
Then came in succession "The Duke's Antechamber," "On the Grand Canal," "A
Hundred Years Ago," " Casus Belli," "The Forest Pet," "Cinderella," "The Pro-
tector," "Hamlet and the King," "Ophelia," "Too Good to be True," "Moonlight
on the Lagoons," "The Bill of Sale," and "Flotsam and Jetsam." These were all
at the Royal Academy ; and to other exhibitions Mr. "Wallis's, for instance, and
that useful little yearly gallery, long defunct, the British Institution he contributed
a " Scene from the ' Gentle Shepherd,' " " Christopher Sly," " Choosing a Weapon,"
" The Virtuoso," " The Salutation." To the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition he
sent "Prince Henry, Poins, and Falstaff;" and at the Paris International of 1878
he was represented by "The Queen of the Swords," "Escaped," "The Bill of
Sale," and "The Duke's Antechamber."
In 187G Mr. Orchardson's Academy pictures included a portrait of a child,
which was very striking in its broad and massive simplicity of colouring and
lighting; the face was an unusual one, with a peculiarity of eyelids drooping at
the outer corners, producing somewhat strange character for a child. In 1877,
when the artist was elected an Academician, appeared " The Queen of the Swords,"
which is the subject of one of our woodcuts, and was the first of the more purely
O 1 .S
WILLIAM QUILLER ORCHARDSON, R.A. 201
elegant last-century and first-empire subjects to which the artist seems to be turning
his attention. He has, indeed, such exquisite grace, not of lino merely, but of
execution, that his pencil is well employed in the subtly-coloured, quaintly-fashioned
phases of bygone ball-room life. "The Queen of the Swords" is even more broad
(for Mr. Orchardson must not object to be wearied with that earliest adjective of
his public praises) than usual, the colour is refined and has a diffused warm white-
ness, and the figures move with a certain quietness and dignity not without charm,
if somewhat lacking in gaiety. To our mind, nevertheless, his best work in the
same Academy was his "Jessica," a strikingly-treated picture, painted in a flat
light, with strong massive effects about the head and hair, and excellent drawing
in the face altogether a figure to arrest attention and command admiration. A
marked advance and addition, however, seems to us to have been made in Mr.
Orchardson 's painting in 1878, when the "Social Eddy" and "Autumn" were ex-
hibited. His colour, always tender and strong, seemed now to take an added
beauty, delicacy, and exquisitencss, for the like of which contemporary work may
be explored in vain. It is more than pretty, and more than brilliant ; it is also
curiously original, having been studied in no school and learned by no rules. In
" Autumn," for instance, the painting of a subtle soft muslin garment worn by a
girl is consummately delicate, the tints being almost visionary passages of pearl.
The fineness of these tones and colours is, in this instance, made more valuable
by a surrounding yellowness which would seem, however, to bo a somewhat strained
interpretation of nature. "A Social Eddy Left by the Tide" is one of the artist's
loveliest works. Whatever there is of artificial in his later manner is easily con-
doned when we have a lamplight scene, as in the present instance ; and this most
felicitous little picture unites with all the pleasure it gives to the eye an equally
keen pleasure which it gives to the mind by its exquisite intelligence. All the
graces of the early century seem to be expressed in the action of the couples as
they retreat to the dance the men high-shouldered and with an artificial outline
not devoid of elegance ; the ladies slim, long-limbed, and with the pretty napes of
their necks displayed by the lifted hair. As to the character of the elderly couple,
curled and rouged, who are exchanging compliments on an ottoman, it is of the
finest kind of comedy, while the figure of a girl whom fate has so cruelly left
without a partner is full of charm. The panelled walls, the floor, the furniture, are
painted up to a point of soft brilliancy which, perhaps, can best be appreciated by
a glance at any picture unfortunate enough to be near this killing little canvas.
Similar in elegance was the next year's " Hard Hit," a gambling scene not
altogether fresh in subject, but freshly treated in Mr. Orchardson's composition.
A slender young man is making his exit from the scene of his misfortune, while his
fellow-gamblers, whose expressions vary from a look of good-humoured encourage-
ment to one of perfectly heartless satisfaction, remain seated, and show the effects
of a hard night's play. Cards are strewn in great numbers on the floor. The scene
is not intended to convey tragic emotions, and the young victim has his feelings well
202 THE MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
under control. Eminently graceful is the composition even in the absence of the
It was in 1880, however, that Mr. Orchardson entered upon work which was
probably more masculine and more serious than anything he had yet attempted.
His " Napoleon on Board the Bellerojrfion " has all the dignity of, historical painting,
which is something different from mere historical genre. The choice of subject is
especially to be commended. For it is an indisputable fact that of late our better
painters have inclined overmuch to the feminine interest, leaving subjects of more
pith to hands scarcely able to cope with them. Nowadays the novelist must write
for a majority of women; the minor poet must bear them in mind in his singing;
and the modern composer, still more decidedly, in his composing ; but the painter
can surely appeal to the world for which epics and dramas are made that is,
the world of large and general interests; for everybody cares for pictures, and the
number of his constituents sets an artist free as free as Shakespeare. It is, then,
somewhat to be regretted that much of our best modern talent should have bound
itself witli voluntary restrictions. Mr. Orchardsou's subject has, besides its mas-
culine and general interest, the great advantage of treating an historical incident
which is so well within memory that his picture has the value of a contemporary
record. Our pictures of the historical incidents of long ago may be interesting
enough to ourselves, but they certainly will have no manner of value in the eyes of
oar posterity, whereas a record made in 1880 of the events of 1815 is not too tardy
to have its authority for the people of 1950. In the " Napoleon," which was
emphatically the picture of the year at the Academy, of course the peculiar sweetness
and charm of colour of which we have spoken had no place for historical work
should not be too exquisite in colour ; but it was finely harmonious, mellow, and
From this year forward Mr. Orchardson has become continually more conspicuous.
His work has given a certain cachet to the dullest of Academies. When the walls
have been loaded with deliberate and lifeless work by no means without merit, but
decidedly without interest the few pictures which have had any kind of unity,
spirit, and ensemble, have always included (and often as the most important of the
number) a canvas of Mr. Orchardson's. This has been the case even when he has
exhibited little or nothing but portraits. In 1881 his best work was the portrait
of Mrs. Winchester Clowes, a golden picture of a lady in a light dress, seated;
In the following year he contributed to the Academy a graceful little genre subject
" Housekeeping in the Honeymoon." But the great success of a very successful
career dates from the painting of the brilliant " Voltaire." It is a banquet scene in
radiant lamplight, on which the philosopher, just stung by an insult, enters in bitter
indignation, carelessly received. The diners preserve their repose of manner unruffled,
and there is a dramatic contrast of action and expression. But the interest of the
groups is marred by the common modern fault of repeating one model. In his
anxiety to keep the type of the period (and every period undoubtedly has its type),
WILLIAM QUILLER ORCHAKDSON, R.A.
the artist has confined himself almost absolutely to one face; he has certainly run
one nose through the whole assemblage. The picture, however, is exceptionally
accomplished, and the painting of all the accessories most complete and vivid. The
" Voltaire," hung in one of the two chief places of honour of the Academy, attracted
the most lively attention given to any picture that year. Soon afterwards appeared
the " Mariage de Conveuance," again a lamplight dinner scene, but this time witli
A SOCIAL EDUV LEFT BY THE TIUB.
PermfMion of A. tlaalonalil, Elq., Kejqiltttoiu, Aberdeen)
two figures seated at the table the worn and rather melancholy man "between
two ages," and the buxom young woman who has been allotted to him in the parental
counsels. They sit together, in evening dress, in a state of silent protest, with the
bride's face blackened by a cloud of furious ill-temper. Here also the technique
and the illumination are masterly. But Mr. Orchardson was ill-advised to produce
a sequel. Sequels are never good in the higher artistic sense. They suppose a
childish desire in the public to know " what happened next," which no painter should
care to satisfy. As to the interest which should legitimately be taken in the subject
of a picture, it is far keener for the suspense, for the recognition of the limitations
of pictorial rendering. The prophecy in the "Mariage de Convenance," besides.
204 THE MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
was so exceedingly stormy, that no addition of tragedy is made by showing us the
husband by his fireside, abandoned. This is what Mr. Orchardson does, in fact,
present to us in his " Mariage de Convenance After!" The middle-aged bride-
groom meditates, seated in profile, in complete desolation, upon the mistake of his
maturity. Whatever may be his misfortunes, his personality is not such as we
greatly care to continue acquaintance with through the space of two Exhibitions.
In 1885 Mr. Orchardson chose a good subject a scene in a French salon, thus
"The salon of Mme. Recamier included all sections of society as reconstituted after the Revolution.
Not only the scattered elements of the old aristocracy, but also the new men of talent, all met at her
house, from a common admiration of their young and beautiful hostess. The Due de Montmorency, M. do
Narbonne, Mme. de Stael, and others who hail returned from exile, were received there at the same time
with Lucien Bonaparte, Fouche, Bernadotte, Sieyes, Gerard, Ciinova, and others. ' The repose of her
manner made her sympathy more effective.' She was a good listener. ' Bien eeouter c'est presque repondre,'
quotes Jean Paul ; and Sainte Beuve says that Mme. Recamier listened ' avec seduction.' "
The artist has filled his canvas with a most elegant group, cleverly and charmingly
composed, so that the numbers represented do not interfere with the space that
leads up to and encloses the queen of the gathering, as she sits in her beauty, with
the full-length figure displayed. Almost every head is intended for a likeness.
But the picture fails in two important points. One of these is animation. Every
one who knows Parisian society is aware that at its most refined it is, compared
with our own, full of sound and movement. Mr. Orchardson's groups, however, are
serious beyond the wont even of Englishmen ; and a grave fault is in the conception
of Mme. Kecamier herself, who is represented in the picture as altogether pre-
occupied with her own beauty. To listen "seductively" is above all things to listen
with self-forgetfulness, with entire and restful sympathy and simplicity. English
opinion would concur in this ; and as to French opinion, which regards charm of
manner more than beauty, it would refuse to recognise a merely self-conscious beauty
as the goddess of a salon. Besides, the words quoted by Mr. Orchardson are decisive
as to the kind of influence over her guests which his heroine possessed. He was
ill-advised, therefore, when he painted her in a pose deliberately assumed, and wearing
the unmistakable look of egotistic preoccupation. Mme. de Stael, too, is perhaps
placed too much in a corner. France is not the country where wit surfers an eclipse
so complete in the presence of beauty. These faults of judgment apart, the picture
is full of singularly charming drawing and touch.
Mr. Orchardson is one of the two or three Academicians who do not use their
Academical giant's power like giants. He sends few canvases to Burlington House
at one time, so that the rejected have nothing whatever to reproach him with. Most
frequently he is represented by one picture as we have said, an important one, like
the one cub of which the lioness boasted in the fable; at most he sends two or
three, and the size is modest. The great amount of work which he has put of late
into his best pictures has of course something to do with this. Nor have his con-
tributions to the Grosvenor Gallery been very frequent. But he exhibited there in
WILLIAM QVILLER ORCflARDSON, R.A.
1885 a very striking long picture, which had the place of honour, containing portraits
of his wife and child. The group is painted most hrilliautly and harmoniously, and
is full of animation.
Mr. Orchardson has exhibited at the Salon as well as in the Champ de Mars
and the Trocadero. Among his Salon pictures may be mentioned a study of terriers,
which is the only instance of the painter's practice of animal-painting. In landscapes
he has confined himself almost exclusively to backgrounds and accessories.
Mr. Orchardson's work is to be commended for its possession of that quality of
distinctiveness which has been rare enough in the British school ; and his mission
seems to be principally to teach repose also rare. That often-mentioned "breadth"
is chiefly a repose in his manner of seeing lights and shades where others might
fidget with a hundred half-tones. Precisely so with composition. Wlio does not
know the devices of that school which is afraid of an inch of calm canvas ? The
Bible and Church-service casually lying on the floor in one direction, a cabbage and
a kitten in another, a helmet, turnips, and a baby accidentally strewn elsewhere ?
Wilkie was not free from the love of these. Mr. Orchardson and Mr. Pettio have
both convinced the world that a torment of accessories does not make for the dignity
or the right naturalness of art. Englishmen, who seem to have for ages exacted
from their architects the greatest possible number of windows, have now perhaps
begun to appreciate the beauty and value of some spaces of blank wall ; and if they
have learnt the same lesson in pictures, Mr. Orchardson has been among their prin-
cipal teachers. Nor need the lesson stop here. Greater repose in modern rooms
and modern dress would do much to relieve the world of its more vicious kinds of
ugliness insincere and inveterate ornamentation.
Although his work dates back, as we have seen, a considerable time, Mr.
Orchardson ranks distinctively with the younger school of British art. He is now
in mid-career, and full of that hopeful dissatisfaction so distinctive of the true artist,
which he has himself put into an expressive word : " One is always finishing one's
bad picture, and beginning one's good one."
WILLIAM FREDERICK YEAMES, R.A.
T is claimed by the much-worried Royal Academy that those painters,
sculptors, architects, and engravers who excel in their professions, and
have become the representatives of all that is excellent in art in Eng-
land, find their way, sooner or later, to Burlington House, and are
eventually absorbed into the body as associates, if not as full members. It
is further claimed that the painters who attain the coveted honours have, in
nine cases out of ten, graduated in the schools of the Koyal Academy, as the
records of the studentships will verify. It is further declared that such exceptions
to this latter rule as now and then do occur only go upon the proverbial principle
to prove it ; and the siibject of this present brief biography is a notable illus-
tration of these said exceptions. Yet, after all, perhaps, it must be said that it
was due to mere accident that Mr. Yeames never studied at the Eoyal Academy.
Had it not been for the circumstance of his family's residing chiefly on the
Continent, he would probably have received his regular early tuition in art at the
WILLIAM FREDERICK YEAME8, B.A. 207
hands of that institution. For although his first attempt to become a probationer,
when a temporary sojourn in this country gave him the opportunity of making it,
was unsuccessful, it may be reasonably inferred, looking at the position he now
holds, that any second effort to qualify himself for the school of the antique
would have led to his admission. As it was, the first means by which he has been
enabled step by step to advance to distinction were found in Italy, and thus we
see him coming before the English public in 1859 a full-fledged painter, as it were.
William Frederick Yeames, fourth son of the Consul of his Britannic Majesty
King William IV. at Taganrog, on the Sea of Azoff, South Russia, was born at
that place in December, 1835. Fortunately for him, he again presents an exception
to the general run of youngsters who wish to become artists. He met with no
opposition to his inclinations at home ; on the contrary, his father being a man of
great culture, and having a very refined taste in and knowledge of painting and
engraving, encouraged his children to develop by study and observation whatsoever
proclivities in the same direction they might inherit from him. lie used to declare
roundly that if any one of them displayed the inclination and ability requisite to
promise success, no effort should be spared to make that one the artist of the
family ; and that one proved to bo William Frederick. Probably in some sort with
a view to arriving at a definite opinion on this point, and to discovering which of
his offspring would exhibit the tendency ho was on the look-out for, he took his
whole family on a prolonged tour in Italy when William Frederick was between
six and seven years old. Travelling on the Continent in 1842-3 was a very different
business from what it has since become. A journey from Russia to Rome could
have been no small undertaking in those days for a family of six children with
their parents ; and we may be sure that the attraction which the art-laden
atmosphere of Italy had for the elder Yeames must have had something magnetic
in it, and that his purpose of making his children personally acquainted with the
masterpieces of art must have been very strong. The result showed the wisdom of
the plan, for our artist says that, young as he was, he believes that the foundation
of his love for the "jealous mistress," the love which has borne such good fruit,
was laid during that period, inasmuch as he can remember how deeply impressed
he was with many of the noble works to which his attention was drawn with
especial emphasis by his accomplished father. The memory of many of these, and
the enthusiasm and admiration which they kindled at the time, are, he declares,
still fresh in his mind.
Unhappily, the advantage of such an able cicerone was not to be his for long,
for Mr. Ycames, senior, died in Venice during the second year of the visit to the
south ; but the tradition of her husband's wishes was faithfully carried out by the
widow, and when she and her family, after their bereavement, settled in Dresden,
young William Frederick's art-education was not neglected. Indeed, as he, with
his brothers and sisters, was entirely educated at home (the parents holding some
peculiar views on this subject), the lad had a better chance, perhaps, of following
208 THE MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
his bent towards art in conjunction with his other studies than if he had been
launched into the rougher associations of public school life.
In 1848 the family removed to London. Here the drawing from casts was kept
up in the studio of Mr. J. Sherwood Westmacott, whilst Mr. George Scharf trained
the young student in anatomy and other rudimentary branches of the painter's craft.
It was the experience thus gained which led, a year or so later, to the attempt
above referred to, to gain admission as a student at the Eoyal Academy an atte'mpt
which doubtless would have been renewed had not the family, in 1852, paid a
second visit to Italy. For two years Mr. Yeames diligently pursued his art-
education iu Florence, under the supervision of Professor Pallastrine, of the
Florentine Academy, and later on under that of Signer Raffaelle Buonajuti.
Towards the close of this second sojourn among the relics and gems of art by
which he had been so much impressed when a mere child, our artist went to Rome.
Here, also, for some eighteen months he worked, we may be sure, with unflagging
energy, otherwise the first pictures which he submitted to the Council of the Royal
Academy would not have received the favourable consideration which they had.
This was in 1859, when, having the previous year once more taken up his abode in
England, the young painter exhibited at the Royal Academy, besides a portrait, a
picture called " The Staunch Friends " (a jester with a monkey), which displayed
even then, as far as the subject was concerned, many indications of those cha-
racteristics which have rendered his works popular. These may be roughly said to
manifest a combination of the droll and the pathetic that combination which,
without being exactly sensational, goes home at once to the hearts of the many,
whilst it appeals successfully to the more discriminating appreciation of the few.
Looking through the catalogue of his works, and recalling many of them vividly,
one is struck in most instances by the delicate method by which he tells his story.
Always contriving to do this forcibly through the medium of individuality, and the
accurately right expression of his dramatis personce, he gets, by mere truthful
contrast, considerable value out of very trifling details. The by-ways of history
are not unfrequently and wisely preferred by him to scenes which, being, perhaps,
the turning-points of a country's fortunes, are dwelt on at length in its chronicles.
Mr. Yeames's brush is eminently representative of the domestically historic
genre picture, thougli on occasions he makes some of his best points out of
subjects which are purely historical. For instance, the work from his hand which
first attracted the attention of the art-loving world, and by which he gained, in
June, 1866, the Associateship of the Royal Academy, was of this class. " Queen
Elizabeth Receiving the French Ambassadors after the News of the Massacre of
St. Bartholomew," possessed merits sufficient to claim for it a very prominent
position on the walls of the exhibition and a remembrance in the minds of all
who are fond of taking retrospective glances at Royal Academy shows. The
scene is truly dramatic, and gives us in looking at the picture a little of the
surprise, though not of the dismay, of the French embassy, which, arriving in
THE MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
gala, finds the presence chamber hung with black and the Queen and her court
silent, solemn, and dressed in mourning. There is some quiet expression in
the backs of the disconcerted diplomatic corps not overdone by any attempt
at emphasising the comedy. This moderation is one of Mr. Yeames's good
qualities. And amongst the successors of this picture will be remembered such
conspicuous canvases as, in 1863, " The Meeting of Sir Thomas More with his
Daughter after his Sentence to Death ; " in 1804, " La Reine Malheureuse,"
Queen Henrietta Maria taking refuge from the fire of the Parliament ships in
Burlington Bay ; in 1865, " Arming the Young Knight ; " in 1868, " The Chimney-
" HERE WE GO ROUND THE MULBERRY HUSH."
Corner" and "Lady Jane Grey in the Tower;" in 1869, "The Fugitive Jacobite"
and "Alarming Footsteps."
Since the removal of the Royal Academy to Burlington House our artist has
justly made a steady advance in public favour through his "Maundy Thursday"
and "Love's Young Dream;" "Dr. Harvey and the Children of Charles I.;" "The
Appeal to the Podesta ; " "Pour les Pauvres " and "The Suitor." "Pour les
Pauvres," exhibited in 1875, shows the door of a farmhouse, perhaps in the Low
Countries, and two nuns drawing a little hand sledge up to it across deep snow.
One nun is harnessed, the other holds open the mouth of a capacious bag, into
which the good housewife empties her platters of loaves and cakes. For the
nuns are collecting alms in kind for the poor who are hard pressed by the
winter weather. Carrots and turnips and a can of milk have already been con-
tributed, to the increase of the nuns' load and the lightening of their hearts.
Mr. Yeames rose still higher in the estimation of the cognoscenti as well as
in that of the multitude by the class of work which is represented by "The
WILLIAM FREDERICK YE AMES, R.A. 211
Last Bit of Scandal," " Here we go round the Mulberry Bush," and " When
did you last see your Father ? " The first named (by which, as also by " Pour
les Pauvres," the painter was represented at Paris in 1878), is a pretty bit of
eighteenth-century comedy. Two sedan chairs meet in a street, say of Bath.
The lady and the gentleman who severally occupy them have something to say
to each other of such interest that the tops must be lifted up and the news
exchanged. Accordingly the bearers set down the chairs, and stand gravely hold-
ing up the flap covers, while the occupants stand up and talk. The group is
thoroughly grotesque ; nevertheless, it is gentle, probable, and unforced. The
setting is in character lilacs in bloom over a red brick wall, a "coach" with
three footmen clinging behind rolling round the corner, a stalwart street seller with
her basket, a little negro page hugging a lap dog. " Here we go round the
Mulberry Bush " is, as regards motive, one of the painter's happiest works. The
peaceful "bush" is represented by a now equally peaceful cannon, commanding a
placid "haven under the hill," probably one of the deep harbours of Plymouth,
in which the grand ships of another age ride at anchor. It is a last-century
scene, and the veterans of wars then already ancient history sit in a terrace in the
shade, talking together, to the accompaniment of the children's soug. The figures
of the little ones as they circle and dance are gracefully conceived. " When did
you last see your Father ? " represents an episode in the wars of the Parliament,
when a party of Cromwellian soldiers who have burst into the apartments of a
fugitive Koyalist and have captured, we may suppose, the sou and heir of the
house, are putting to the little boy the fatal question which may lead to the
accomplishment of their purpose, and the destruction of the parent through the
truthfulness of the son. The child, placed on a footstool in front of the group of
stern, cold, ruthless Puritan soldiers, gazes at his interlocutors with a blanched,
half-timid face, in which nevertheless is visible the pride of his race, which we
hope will carry the little fellow safe through his ordeal. Close by stand his lady
mother and loviug young sister, who look at him with mingled pride, tenderness,
and fear. Nothing could have been more pathetic or better than the situation,
whilst it afforded an opportunity for the display of the artist's characteristics and
powers to their utmost, an opportunity in nowise neglected at any single point.
The election of William Frederick Yeames, on June 19th, 1878, to the full
honours of the Royal Academy, is deservedly to be attributed to this, all things
considered, the most conspicuously successful of the artist's latest efforts. And this
distinction was amply justified by the important picture of " Amy Robsart." Power-
fully sensational, its impressiveness and force were in nowise marred by the exhi-
bition of anything that could be termed repellent. The incident, whether as
related in Aubrey's " History of Berkshire " or in the pages of " Keuilworth,"
could hardly have heen more admirably illustrated, and although it was the
historian's description which inspired Mr. Yeames, according to the catalogue,
the public accepted the picture readily as an interpretation of the great novelist's
212 THE MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
account of the lie art-rending tragedy. Very difficult would it have been more skil-
fully to realise the situation to which the following extract points :
" In less than two minutes, Foster, who remained behind, heard the tread
of a horse in the courtyard, and then a whistle similar to that which was the
Earl's usual signal; the instant after, the door of the Countess's chamber opened,
and in the same moment the trap-door gave way. There was a rushing sound
a heavy fall a faint groan and all was over.
"'Look down into the vault. What seest thou ? '
"'I see only a heap of white clothes like a snowdrift."
Mr. Yeames contributed to the Eoyal Academy ill 1879 a large portrait group
of children on a shingly shore by a breakwater; and "La Bigolante," a single
figure study of a water-carrier. The Venetian girl has slung over her shoulder
the grand copper vessels in which fresh water is carried in the sea city, and
she turns from one of the picturesque marble wells which form the centre of every
piazzettu. In 1880 the single figure was replaced by a well-filled composition,
" The Finishing Touch." Here we are introduced to the " wings " 'at some
amateur theatricals, with a side view on to the stage. A last-century group is
just ready to "go on," and a nineteenth-century young man is giving the finish-
ing touch in the form of a patch to the rouged cheek of a charming powdered
lady in a large hat, whose attitude expresses her trepidation. A male actor, more
solemnly nervous, cons his part beyond, and two or three press forward to see
the play sidelong. The group on the stage is comically stagy an actor having
his hand raised in conventional declamation, while one actress faints as con-
ventionally over his arm, and another kneels at his feet. The whole is involved
in the yellow light of lamps, increasing the effect of the yellows and reds of the
costumes. We need mention only the title of a less important picture exhibited
the following year ; but that should have a word of protest, inasmuch as it
repeats an obstinate old error. "Dolce far niente " should be "Dolce non far
niente," as the "niente" in Italian requires a negative to make it complete,
precisely as "rien" does in French. Nevertheless, Englishmen long ago resolved
that they would have the phrase their own way. It is so commonly used, indeed,
as to have become a kind of English it is certainly not Italian.
The year 1882 was marked by Mr. Yeames at the Eoyal Academy by
" Welcome as Flowers in Spring ; " " The March Past " children with sticks and
brooms playing at soldiers in an old English courtyard ; and " Prince Arthur and
Hubert." In the last-named picture the moment is evidently that in which the
tender child, who has just learned what he has been ordained to suffer, clings to
Hubert's arm and tries to make the man look into his face :
Arth. Must you with hot irons burn out both mine eyes?
Hub. Young boy, I must.
And will you 1
And I will.
WILLIAM FREDERICK YEAUES, R.A.
Arlh. Have you the heart 1
When your head did but
I knit my haudkercliief
about your brows
(The best I had, a princess
wrought it me),
And I did never ask it
you again ;
And with my hand at mid-
night held your head ;
And like the watchful
minutes to the hour,
Still and anon checr'd up
the heavy time,
Saying " What lack you 1 "
and " Where lies your
grief ! "
Or, " What good love may
1 jxTfonn for you 1 "
Many a poor man's son
would have lain still,
And ne'er have spoke a
loving word to you ;
But you at your sick ser-
vice had a prince.
Nay, you may think my
love was crafty love,
And call it cunning : do,
an if you will :
If Heaven be pleas'd that
you must use me ill,
Why, then you must. Will
you put out mine eyes 1
These eyes that never did,
nor never shall
So much as frown on youl
Mr. Yearaes has pre-
sented the stern in-
terior of the prison.
Huhert has sunk down
moodily upon a settle,
with his eyes bent
to the ground, and
Arthur, at his side,
turns towards him,
as he speaks, the irre-
sistihle appeal of his
eyes. The composi-
tion of the group is
(rurcluued in 1877 from Ote Chantrcy Fund by the Royal Academy.)
WILLIAM FREDERICK YEAMES, R.A.
" Tender Thoughts " represented Mr. Yeames in 1883. In 1885 the Royal
Academy had his " Ford's Hospital, Coventry," " Depart," and " Prisoners of War,
1805 " two "middies'' who are enduring with English stolidity the curious looks
of their French gaolers. In the following year our artist exhibited " Malvina "
and " A Catastrophe." Perhaps, of all the painters of our school, Mr. Yeames
has been the most constant to his own Academy. The reader is perhaps hardly
aware that there is a rule to the effect that Royal Academicians shall not exhibit
elsewhere than within the walls they are bound to honour. Of course no one
thinks of obeying so tyrannical a regulation ; nevertheless, there remains a certain
etiquette as to exhibiting the most important work in the Academic galleries,
which several painters have by no means shown them-
selves scrupulous in respecting. Mr. Yeames, however,
has been, if we mistake not, almost absolutely faithful.
We do not remember that the great attractions of the
Grosvenor, to every painter who likes to see his work
set forth by the advantages of space and quietness, have
ever drawn him from the Royal Academy, of which ho is
so steady and industrious and able a member.
It has been aptly said, " Considering how much of
Yeames's art education was received in Continental
schools, one is surprised to see so little of foreign in-
fluence in his pictures. His subjects are essentially
English, and his mode of treating them is generally
analogous to that practised in our own school. He is
an earnest, intelligent, vigorous, yet painstaking artist,
whose works merit the favour they receive from our best
collectors." And Mr. Tom Taylor, who was the friend-
liest of all critics on the press to artists whose work is distinctively English
in its methods, has said of him : " Yeames is a conscientious and earnest artist ;
his gravity of conception and sobriety of style he owes mainly, no doubt, to his
character and temperament, hut it has been strengthened by his art education,
the best part of which was carried on in Florence."
' LA II100LANTK.
L^ON BON NAT.
A PAINTER of genre, history, religion, and portrait, stands
-j- in peril of not being remembered as distinctively as his
successes might merit. This is the day of subdivisions. In
science, material has accumulated at compound interest, but
without the corresponding increase in man's mental capacity
which we might have expected that evolution would produce
to meet the exigencies of the time. Evolution may have
created the giraffe's neck through successive seasons of drought
for the more convenient cropping of the trees, but it has
not lengthened human memory for the more convenient
storage of the facts which the lengthening ages are piling
up in history ; it has not enlarged man's wisdom for the
weighing of so much evidence ; it has not perfected his
discernment for the appraisement of a multiplied literature ; it has added nothing
to the keenness of the individual eye and nothing to the power of the indi-
vidual hand, in spite of the collective achievement of the many schools of art ;
LEON BONN AT.
and as for Science, she may be said to have left man, as a unit, nowhere to
have overpowered and outgrown him. We have heard it wittily said that whereas
one man might, fifty years ago, have been a physiologist, a botanist, and a chemist,
it now takes at least three men to be a chemist only. But M. Leon Bonnat has
consented to no such subdivision of his art. He has elected to be everything. The
question is whether the world will allow him the large praise of a master in each of
his arts, or will enter into a subdivision of its own. For our part, we may be inclined
to narrow this great artist's claims at once by rejecting his religious painting, and
KIKKKA AT HOME.
even to go on and deny him the title of historical painter, so that, although wo shall
have paintings of religious subjects and of historical subjects to consider in this
paper, we shall in truth be considering them as the work of a painter of genre and
portrait. Our act of division is important. " Show me a man," said an old logician,
" who is master of division, and I will follow him to the ends of the world." Assuredly
we are not alone in judging M. Bonnat not to be, in the legitimate sense, a religious
painter ; but in the matter of history opinions may be much divided. In genre, on
the other hand, he is so charming, and in portrait so masterly, that his place in
those arts is fixed for ever.
Let M. Bonnat's blood and his education be borne in inind, and the reason of
our distinctions will be more readily understood. He was born in the Pyrenees,
of a Pyreuean family, so that his lineage was Basque, and not what we understand
by French in its narrow sense, while his artistic training was altogether Spanish.
218 THE MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
Velasquez, Murillo, Goya, Zurbaran, Eibera, gave him his inspirations of eye and
heart, and especially Eibera. Now, among the great and noble, the austere or the
sweet qualities of this group of great masters, one quality is eminent, and this is
their humanity. Velasquez is human and noble ; Zurbaran, human and austere ;
Eibera, human and cruel ; Murillo, human and tender. This is the quality which
made their portrait art so magnificent, but their religious art so unelevated that the
great Spanish school, which painted so much religion, can scarcely be said to have
been a religious school at all. Their sacred art was terrible and true, the art of
inquisitors, perhaps, but not of renegades. It was realistic, in the sense in which
Balzac and his followers are realistic in literature. Strong humanity is the very
heart of realism ; and Bonnat, the modern student of the Spaniards, with his Southern
character, has their qualities, and " the defects of their qualities." When a chorus of
criticism pronounced his great " Crucifixion " to be nothing but a magnificent picture
of a man in torment one of the thousands of slaves crucified by a Eoman Emperor
M. Bonnat might have replied with some triumph that it was the picture of a
man. We will go further, and say that it is the portrait of a man so individual,
so realised is it in the momentary life and agony of the swollen limbs, the strained
tendons, the curled fingers. We would pronounce this to be essentially portrait
art, not religious art. And in historical painting the same want of generality has
almost the same effect it changes a school of history into a school of portraiture ;
historical art of the grand style does not need to be too keenly, sharply, and insistently
personal. It is the same in literature. Who, however impressed by the genius of
Carlyle, will place him in the magisterial seat of the grave historian ? Those who
love humanity the unit of humanity, whom no author has grasped so separately
as Carlyle may pronounce him to be something more than an historian, but no one
will give him that large and dignified name.
It is, then, as a master of the art of portraiture that M. Bonnat has our most
serious consideration, and in this the general voice is with us ; for though his
"Crucifixion" was much discussed, the portraits of Thiers and of Victor Hugo are
undoubtedly those of his works which have had the supreme success. It was not,
of course, with portraiture that the young artist began. A loss of fortune caused
the removal of the family, while Leon was still a boy, from the Pyrenees to Madrid.
He fell at once under the influences which reign in the great galleries of that city,
and resolved to be a painter. It was in 1847 that he entered the studio of Federico
Madrazo, who sought at first to discourage his pupil from entering upon the career.
Madrazo knew, as every teacher of art must know, the delusions of ambition, and
how cruel Art is ; for if that Nature, which used to be called a gentle mother, is
seen now to be stern, full of rapine and war, how much more cruel is Art, which
will not forgive the absence of the indefinable touch of genius, and will not receive
in its place the labours of a Hercules, the self-devotion of a martyr, unresting energy,
confident hope, unbaffled patience. The young pupil, however, was not to be dis-
couraged ; and when, soon after his installation in the studio, he confided to his
LfiON BONN AT. 219
master a picture painted in secret "Giotto Tending his Flocks" Madrazo em-
braced the boy with the charming untranslatable expression of his satisfaction,
" Gamin, tu feras ton chemin."
The death of Leon Bouuat's father recalled him, at the age of twenty-one,
to France. He went to Paris, and, following Madrazo's counsels, entered the
studio of Cogniet, who was also the master of Meissonier. In 1857 Bonnat entered
into competition for the Prix de Rome, but with no great success. The first and
second grand prizes, each of which carries with it the much-coveted studentship
at the Villa Medici on the Pincian hill, were borne off by rivals whose subsequent
achievements have proved them his inferiors, and he himself gained only the lower
prize, which does not entitle to the Roman course of stud}'. The young artist's
native town, however, to its great credit and glory, supplied by a true instinct the
error of the judges, and subscribed to give him the advantage which he had missed.
And his sojourn in Rome was fruitful. It may be said to have completed his time
of pupilage, to have fulfilled the days of that tentative striving after the ways of
others which seemed to be with him (as with others in art) the preparation for
becoming truly and directly what his nature intended him to be. Simplicity to
be true to oneself, to be natural, to be emancipated and impulsive and characteristic
this is not the first step in art, but the last, and he who attains it is a master.
The chief of the works sent home to the Salon by the young student were " The
Good Samaritan," in 185G ; " Adam and Eve Recovering the Body of Abel," which
gained a second medal in 1801 ; the " Crucifixion of St. Andrew," in 1803. On
his return to Paris he painted a modern Roman subject, " Pasqua Maria;" and his
" Statue of St. Peter at Rome " was bought by the Empress Eugenie. " Mezzo
bajocco, Eccelenza ! " a bit of Neapolitan street-life, and " Antigone Leading the
Blind CEdipus," excited serious attention among the Parisian critics. This was
renewed and redoubled on the appearance of the historical and genre pictures,
" St. Vincent de Paul Taking the Place of a Convict," and " Neapolitan Peasants
before the Faruese Palace." Both were painted with a strong and sombre palette
in fact, in too Spanish a tone to please Paris entirely ; but the hand of a masterly
draughtsman was recognised, and the young artist was praised for not allowing
the pathetic incident from the life of the gentle St. Vincent to lead him into any
emotionalism. A bold and accentuated portrait of a girl strengthened his position,
and in 1867 the cross of the Legion of Honour was awarded him by the Emperor,
while an " Assumption " two years later gained the signal distinction of the medal
of honour. This picture is the treasure of Bayonne the city which had been so
kind a nursing mother to his genius in the matter of his Roman studies.
At the Salon of 1873 M. Bonnat's work was pronounced the principal success
of the year. A capital bit of Oriental genre was the "Turkish Barber," and here
the artist departed from his characteristic austerity of colour. The barber himself,
with his yellow turban, stands in an attitude as grand and uses a gesture as large
as though it were his business to remove the head and not merely the hair; his
THE TURKISH BARBER
LtiON BONN AT.
patient crouches on a yellow mat and submits his bluish scalp to the razor. The
colour is emphatic, but not noisy. The other picture, the " Scherzo," proved en-
tirely delightful to the Parisians, who respond instantly to subjects of maternal
interest. In this charming group a ciociarra has laid her little girl across her
knees and makes sallies at the ticklish sides of the pretty brown child, both faces
PORTRAIT OF L<ON COONIET.
being broad with single-hearted laughter. The two wear the old hackneyed but
regrettable costume, the rich tints of which the artist has admirably used.
To the following year belongs that most memorable "Christ on the Cross" to
which we have already referred as the religious work of a portraitist, of a man
impregnated with the Spanish humanism, of a master in what M. Zola would call
"experimental" art the art of experiences. The picture was painted for the Law
Courts of Paris, before the days of the abolition of the crucifix from those places,
222 THE MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
and the painful even horrible insistence of the treatment has been explained by
the artist's wish to strike terror into the hearts of those who are condemned to
death. Consolation might have seemed a more appropriate mission to such men at
such a time, but M. Bonnat emphasised his intention by affixing the destination of
the picture in large letters to the frame. The figure appears against a reddish sky,
and is sharply arid almost metallically accentuated by a supernatural light which
brings out every articulation of the thin body ; the head is turned upwards in
what seems rather a spasm of pain than an appeal to Heaven, nevertheless the
face is not without nobility ; technically, the picture is a wonder of executive brush-
work and a triumph of drawing. The same Salon contained a perfect antithesis to
this sombre work a portrait group of three little Parisian girls attired in yellow,
blue, and rose-colour silks; and "The First Footsteps," a pretty composition of a
young Eoman mother guiding the feet of her nude child whom she holds before
her. In the following year was painted that full-length portrait of Mme. Pasca
which is sufficiently well known in the etching. The actress stands upright, clad
in a broad and heavy Eussian dress white, with black borders and linings, the
open sleeves showing the bare arms, a sash with silver buckles at the waist. The
head is erect ; one hand rests upon a chair, the other hangs straight, touched with
the blue of a turquoise ring ; the background is of a lurid red. The picture is
somewhat too effective too much massed, as the critic who pronounced it to be
the portrait- of the dress and the right arm of Mme. Pasca must have fully
perceived. It is, nevertheless, magnificently modelled. Less successful is the
autograph portrait exhibited in the same year ; not that the artist has failed to
render with vigour his own dark and sympathetic Basque face, but that the painting
is somewhat mannered in dryness and severity. In 1876 M. Bonnat' s " Struggle of
Jacob and the Angel " gave only a limited satisfaction to those who were classic
enough in taste to admire supremely Delacroix's great work on the same subject,
but the artist's power showed as unmistakably as ever through the somewhat rough
and confused composition. The small and brilliant " Negro Barber at Suez " bears
the same date. Among his other works may be named " Eibera at Eorne," which
shows the Spanish painter sitting on the steps of a church, sketching the Capuchins
as they come out in their cowls; "Italian Dancers;" "A Fellah and her Child;"
"A Woman of Ustaritz ; " "A Street in Jerusalem;" and "The Elder Sister."
But the genre pictures are too numerous for complete record.
The year 1877 was that of the artist's great triumph in his portrait of M.
Thiers. The acclamation with which this work was received is a confirmation of
our opinion that M. Bonnat is, by the essence of his power, a portrait-painter. No
historical composition, no group of genre, elicited such a welcome. The portrait of
M. de Montalivet followed in 1878, and in 1879 that of Victor Hugo; and before
the death of Pius IX. the artist greatly desired to obtain sittings from him also.
The Pope was, however, so difficult of access that when his consent was at last
obtained, M. Bonnat was no longer free to attempt the work. The artist's pencil
LfiON BONN AT.
is well suited in the heads of these memorable old men. Humanism is essential
to portraiture, but for the accomplishment of noble or historical portraiture it must
be accompanied by another quality Humanism and scorn make caricature ;
T. VINCENT I1R PAUL TAKIXO TUB PLACE OF A CONVICT.
humanism and familiarity make the portrait of the Jan Steen school ; but humanism
and sympathy make noble portraiture ; and M. Bonnat painted these monumental
portraits with fine and full sympathy. Of their technical merits it may be said
that they are triumphant.
The most considerable of this master's more recent works are the portrait
224 THE MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
of M. Grevy, which ranks with the three above mentioned to form a group un-
equalled in the present century, and that astonishing " Job," a picture somewhat
irritating to the Parisian public, which dislikes eccentricity and does not love
originality too well, or at least is shy of originalite voulue premeditated originality
whereas London loves it. The poet, patriarch, and prophet appears as a deplorable
nude Oriental mendicant. The study is a true one, and is executed with a startling
and abrupt power ; but while recording so well the potsherd and dunghill part of
the story, M. Bonuat might have bethought him that there was something else to
record. It is not from the abject mouth he has painted that broke the word of
glory and joy " I know that my Eedeemer liveth. I shall see God ! "
To our own opinion Ave cannot do better than add that of M. Rene Menard,
who wrote in 1875: "The popularity which Bonuat has now enjoyed for some years
is chiefly owing to his small Italian pictures. But whatever may be the talent and
thought spent upon cabinet pictures, an artist who has lived in Rome and studied
the great masters can hardly remain satisfied with a kind of success so different
from the dreams of his youth. M. Bonuat, in consequence, has simultaneously
followed two directions, which seeni opposed to each other, and the painter of the
graceful little figures, so hotly disputed by amateurs, has never forgotten that he
ought to be an historical painter.'' But, the writer soon shows, unconsciously, that
Bonnat's power is not of the lofty historic style; for he proceeds: "Is Christ on
the cross to be shown to us as the God who dies for the human race, or simply as
a tortured man writhing in his last agony? To this last interpretation Bonnat
adhered, and, his point of view once admitted, it must be admitted that he has
fairly succeeded. The sufferer, in the midst of the most horrible pain, seems to
strain in a last effort ; the muscles contract, the veins swell, and the light, which
brings all into the most pitiless relief, makes the strangest and most striking trompe
I'oeil. . . . Under the Roman Empire criminals were constantly crucified, and
it is of them more than of Christ that we are reminded by M. Bonnat's picture."
The reader may gain a fair idea of style from the illustrations, and a short
study will probably convince him that the one work in which this painter ap-
proaches grandeur of design most nearly is the " St. Vincent." It would be hard
to find a composition of greater dignity in the whole of contemporary French art.
JASTMAN JOHNSON, the painter of " Cranberry-Picking " and the " Con-
fab.," was born in the village of Friburg, in the State of Maine, about
fifty-five years ago. While he was yet a boy his father removed to
Washington. If at that time there was any large American town less
qualified than most to inspire a youth with a turn for art, that town was
Washington. It was, therefore, in spite of early influences, that Mr.
Johnson, while a mere youth, yearned to find artistic expression for his thoughts.
226 THE MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
Beginning with the pencil, and carefully copying objects which interested him, or
studying engravings in picture-books, he acquired the rudiments of his profes-
sion. Accident made him acquainted with the uses of pastel or coloured chalk.
Not only do the portraits that he made at this time indicate mastery over his
materials, they also show the grasp of character which has distinguished his
subsequent efforts. It is to be regretted that his devotion to oils has kept the
public in ignorance of his early success with pastel. Crayon and charcoal continue,
however, to be favourite media with him.
But the time came when Mr. Johnson concluded that it would be better to go
at once to Europe. In the study of the masters of the past, or in the ateliers of
the modern leaders of art, he could best obtain the necessary equipment for his
chosen pursuit. He remained abroad over six years. Visiting Eome, Munich, Paris,
London, and other art-centres, he finally settled at Dusseldorf, at that time far more
important as a school of art than it now is, and very much esteemed and frequented
by Americans, who made themselves willing disciples of the careful but rather
pedantic draughtsmen of the little Rhenish city.
After two years at Dusseldorf he visited the Netherlands. When he arrived at
the Hague, it was with the intention of remaining only a few weeks ; but he was
so enchanted by the works of the Dutch masters which enrich the capital of Holland
that he tarried there four years. This interval was well spent in making admirable
copies of Rembrandt and some of his contemporaries. In the better portraits of
Mr. Johnson there is a depth, a richness of chiaroscuro, a mysterious suggestiveness,
which perhaps are due in part to the careful study he gave to the works of that
great painter : as interwoven with the originality of Tennyson they sometimes suggest
to us Theocritus. While at the Hague he also produced a number of spirited
pictures like "The Card-Players" "The Wandering Fiddler " scenes taken from
the picturesque genre effects of that quaint old country. Tarrying at Paris for a
short time after leaving the Hague, he returned to America, after an absence of
nearly seven years. At first he settled in Washington, and the results of matured
study were soon evident in a remarkable composition entitled " The Old Kentucky
Home." No more characteristic picture has ever proceeded from an American easel.
In later work the artist may have surpassed it in technical excellence ; but he has
scarcely produced one which more happily combines artistic success and popular
The scene a mansion on a Southern plantation is one familiar to the times
before the Civil War. We see before us a piazza and yard, the former shaded by
lofty foliage, but somewhat rusty and dilapidated, as many such houses had become
even during the palmy days of slavery. About the piazza, or in the vine-hung
windows above, ladies and gentlemen are lounging, in the idle gossip of a languid
summer's day. The yard and shrubbery, populated with negroes, babies, dogs, and
fowls, present a picturesque scene. The marvellous fidelity of the details, as conveying
a typical representation of plantation life, gave immediate popularity to the picture.
It was lithographed, and soon decorated cottage walls all over the country. From
comparative obscurity Mr. Johnson immediately sprang to a prominent position in
American art, a position he has ever since maintained. The picture which won him
recognition from the National Academy, of which he was elected member in 1800,
was one of his contributions to the Exposition Universelle of 1807. Encouraged by
its reception, he removed his studio to New York, where he has ever since resided,
and where he has turned his attention alternately to genre, portrait-painting, and
wholly ideal compositions. A good example of the last is his " Consuelo," a portrait
of the heroine of George Sand's famous romance. Another example of what is some-
times rather absurdly called high art is his picture of " Milton Dictating to his
Daughters." This very effective composition is remarkable for the accidental re-
semblance which Munkaosy's well-known picture bears to it in several particulars,
especially in the pose of the blind bard.
Mr. Johnson's talents have found such adequate expression in portraiture that
at present he occupies in this department a rank scarcely rivalled by any living
American painter. Be his subject man, woman, or child, it is rendered with a
blending of delicacy and strength not often found combined. In the painting of flesh
he is especially happy. Some artists excel in the high colour and coarser texture
of masculine features ; others in the ethereal tints or tender complexion of feminine
loveliness. Mr. Johnson is excellent in both. His work is remarkable alike for
firmness 01 handling and refinement of colour and texture. It is, however, in
his portraits of children that his ability in portrait-painting appears to be most
original. Entering fully into sympathy with the innocent beauty of childhood, he
THE MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
represents it with a freshness and poetic truth that would alone suffice to give him
a prominent place in his profession. We may add that it is in his portraits that
the technical excellences and defects of his style are best analysed and criticised.
He paints with a full brush and great solidity, but at the same time with none of
the coarseness that suggests rather paint than texture. His eye for colour is correct,
and he is especially happy in brilliant effects, which he mellows by an agreeable
modulation of grey tints. Light and shade, if not distinguishing characteristics of
his work, are satisfactorily rendered. His shadows are sometimes conventional and
not strictly true to Nature ; and his drawing is liable to the imputation of uncertainty
and fluffiness, due in part to his working so long without a master, but more to the
fact that his talent is one for colour and the study of character. In composing and
painting he holds a golden mean between those who insist on a Deuner-like repro-
duction of every detail, and those who sacrifice every detail for the sake of the
bare suggestion of a single central idea or emotion. In looking at his pictures we
are not disturbed by such minute rendering as diverts the attention from the subject
to the painstaking cleverness of the artist, nor, on the other hand, is the imagination
too severely taxed to grasp the motif in view.
But the field in which Mr. Johnson has done his best work is genre. It is to
this that he owes his popularity. In the representation of folk-life and child-life he
has earned a right to permanent distinction. Hitherto most of the abler American
painters have inclined to portraiture, while some have become known for meritorious
and original landscape. American historical painting, however, has been, with a
few exceptions, of a very inferior order; and until recently those who devoted
themselves to genre have been few and generally of little importance. This fact
has tended to give an increased brilliance to the paintings of William Mount, an
artist of a genius resembling that of Teniers or Wilkie. We have already described
one of Mr. Johnson's genre paintings, "The Old Kentucky Home." Another notable
composition by him, quite opposite in character and beautifully treated, is the
charming cabinet picture called the " Confab." A little boy and girl six or seven
years old are having an innocent little chat in a hay-mow ; that is, they are resting
from their romp on a beam in a barn, and enjoying an infantile flirtation. It is an
idyll of childhood. " The Stage Coach," another well-known Johnson, is probably
the most elaborate drama of child-life that he has executed, and one of the largest.
" Cranberry-Picking," which we engrave, is a reminiscence of Nantucket. This
island is settled mainly by three families, a circumstance that often occurs with
slight variation in New England districts near the coast. The population of Essex,
for example, is largely composed of Choates, Storys, and Burnhams. At Nantucket
the leading clans or families are Macys, Folgers, and Coffins, these last the
descendants of Admiral Tristram Coffin. For many years one of the three great
whaling ports of the United States, Nantucket was rich in wealth and in traditions
of the sea. The traditions remain, the wealth, however, has gone with those that
accumulated it, and the once thriving port is now a waste of decaying wharves and
EASTMAN JOHNSON. 229
crumbling mansions. But Nantucket is gradually becoming a sanitaiy resort on
account of the mildness of the climate, while its scenery, its traditions, and the
quaint seafaring character of its people, offer unusual attractions to the artist. Mr.
Johnson was one of the first to discover these advantages. He purchased a cottage
near the town, in which to pass the summer and axitumn months. The ocean is
only a little way from his house, and his studio, once an old barn, is close at hand.
Among the many subjects which he has painted at Nautucket none is more char-
acteristic or more agreeable than his " Cranberry-Picking." The cranberry of the
United States is nearly the size of a cherry ; it grows in marshes and peat-lands ;
and is allied to the Oxijcoccus palustris of Europe. It is greatly valued in America
as a sauce, having a pleasant tartness; the time of gathering it is in autumn, and,
like hop-picking in England, the business is made the occasion of much mirth and
love-making. In his picture the artist has admirably represented this familiar scene.
The colour is rich and harmonious, and the landscape is suffused by the mild glow
of an autumnal afternoon.
His "Husking," like his "Cranberry-Picking," was suggested by the homely
every-day life of the country-folk, and is qualified both by treatment and subject to
win the applause of the connaisseur and the heart of the people. It was exhibited
in Paris in 1878. In tone and colour and in the acute perception of rural human
nature it loses nothing by comparison with the work of Jules Breton. "A Glass
with the Squire" is another happy illustration of his facility in analysing character.
A venerable country gentleman, probably the justice of the village, is offering a
friendly half-patronising glass of wine to a farmer, perhaps one of his clients. The
accessories, such as the old mahogany sideboard and the carved mantel, are suggested
by what one may still find in the long-settled villages of New England or Virginia.
"The Eeprimand" is an excellent companion piece, representing a scene in the
universal drama; it possesses certain features peculiar to a New England country
house of the olden time. And among these a lover of European ideas will be
inclined to place the emphatic indocility of the young woman who is undergoing
reproof. Not less graphic and vigorous is the artist's representation of the char-
acteristics of a New England Sabbath morning, after the serious Transatlantic breakfast
has been despatched in the prosperous household, and before the family adjourns to
meeting in the little belfried meeting-house at the head of the village street.
It is evident from this survey of Mr. Johnson's art-life that his position among
American painters must necessarily be prominent and influential ; for with his artistic
qualities he has a fund of strong common-sense and an American shrewdness
that render him an excellent manager and adviser. His name appears, therefore, on
almost every art-committee of importance, and his judgment is greatly valued. Not
only is he a member of the National Academy at New York, he belongs also to the
Society of American Artists, which was established with the avowed purpose of rival-
ing the Academy. His work is to be seen conspicuously at the exhibitions of both
these societies, and he is claimed by the followers of both the schools which are
THE MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
represented in the two galleries. The Academicians call him theirs, because, although
he studied long abroad, he has imported the style of no foreign artist, and because,
too, he has been content to look for subjects at home, thus showing himself wholly
in sympathy with the life and character of his own land. These qualities have'
not been characteristic of the work of the new school of American painters, who,
while showing ability and enterprise, have purposely imported the styles of Bonnat,
Gerome, Daubigny, Corot, or Manet, together with a selection of subjects entirely
foreign, and therefore imitative. Evidences are accumulating, however, which show
that some of them are endeavouring to give expression to their own individuality,
and to rescue their identity from the subservience in which it has been merged.
They in turn lay claim to Eastman Johnson as one of their number, because his
style (a quality which young America at least estimates at its true high value),
while wholly his own, suggests the technique of the contemporary Continental
masters. Thus justified and applauded, he may fairly be described as a representative
Moreover, he has earned that position and title by his choice, ahove alluded to,
of home subjects. That choice required some courage, for except perhaps in some of
the English colonies, it would be impossible to find popular life less pictorial than it
is in America. As we have seen, Mr. Johnson has made the most of such moderate
antiquity as may be found in the Eastern States, both North and South ; but this
antiquity is an exceptional thing, and in seeking for it a painter is departing from
the more purely characteristic tone of the country. It is not mere absence of rustic
costume that makes contemporary American farm-life difficult to treat in art ; for
there is little or no costume in Italy, where every phase and act of agriculture is
pictorial; and the peasants of Millet and Bastien-Lepage have, beside their sabots,
no kind of interesting or distinctive dress. It is rather that the undemonstrative
English race, so reticent in expression, so dull in gesture, has these characteristics
very much increased and exaggerated in their Transatlantic quarters. Puritanism
curiously checked such impulsiveness as was ever natural to the race ; and though
the effects of Puritanism have passed away almost entirely in the higher classes,
the middle class and the populace are governed by its spirit, not so much in faith
and ethics as in the habits of the person, turns of speech, reserves and silences in
THE MODERN SCHOOL OF ART.
family life, colourless expression in their faces, inexpressive words, and inexpressive
action. All this makes a people unpicturesque in a far more serious sense than
belongs to mere ugliness or dowdiness of popular working dress. But the painter
of actual New England has to face these facts of life. Going North into Canada he
would find the remains of French character, always more or less pictorial; going
West he would find such cosmopolitan life as comprises every element of demonstrative
and emphatic human nature. But keeping to the Atlantic coasts of the States he
has the universal presence of middle-class Puritanism to deal with. Mr. Johnson
has, in fact, done this as far as possible, and his countrymen have a certain gratitude
to him for this as well as for the credit which he has brought to the art of America.
FEINTED BY CASSELL & COMPACT, LIMITED, LA BELLE SAUVAOE, LONDON, E.G.
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